Time to ditch weapon charts?

With the ubiquity of weapons in this playtest, I'm starting to think we could almost do without weapon charts.

Weapons could just have a damage based on their category and a few examples of this category listed.  A two handed weapon just seems to increase the die type one step and reach seems to drop it one.

Assign your weapon a damage type (if we're insistent on going back down that track), clear it with your DM and away you go.

It would get rid of wierd, historical inconsistencies (katanas and spiked chains in Medieval fantasy) and it's pretty much what the chart's doing anyway.

Of course, without weapon charts, is it really D&D? 
At least it doesn't have a separate line for every single polearm known to humankind.
'Historical inaccuracy' is meaningless in a game that does not take place in our history.  Just because the real world didn't have katanas or spiked chains doesn't mean Faerun, Eberron, or Greyhawk doesn't.

but, yes, something like the Gamma World system where the player can define his own weapon however he likes would be pretty cool.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Yeah, I'll have to disagree with 603. Without clear mechainical differences between a Glaive/guisarme and a Guisarme/Glaive and a Guisarme/voulge and a Glaive/guisarme/voulge, it just doesn't feel like D&D.

I kid, I kid.

It's a great idea to simplify the weapon list. I don't see anything at all wrong with having Small, Medium, and Large weapons (if you want to be more complicated, add simple/finesse/martial to that) and calling it a day.

A similar thing could be done with armour. Just have light/medium/heavy categories. Put two types of armour in each category, one with lower AC and higher dex bonus, and one with higher AC and lower dex bonus.

Then everyone picks a weapon and some armour that's mechanically appropriate to their character and describes it however they want. There should be guidelines in the book like "A Knight's sword is likely to be medium, martial" and "A rogues dagger is likely to be small, finesse", or even a list of historical weapons that fit into each category.

That caters to the "I have plate mail and a long sword, I am a fighting-man" crowd and the historical accuracy crowd and the "My black iron armour glimmers with the fires of the forges of moradin" crowd.

Edit: On the historical thing... I don't think I'd like to play a game with any sort of actual historical accuracy, but some people do like to play that way. Catering to everyone wouldn't be that hard, especially if your solution is to simpllify mechanics and allow people to decide for themselves exactly what their gear looks like and is called.
'Historical inaccuracy' is meaningless in a game that does not take place in our history.  Just because the real world didn't have katanas or spiked chains doesn't mean Faerun, Eberron, or Greyhawk doesn't.

but, yes, something like the Gamma World system where the player can define his own weapon however he likes would be pretty cool.




oh, the real world had katanas, they were just useless against heavy armour.

the spiked chain is full potato, but ther are actual chain weapons out there that were very effective against heavy armour
why not have both? people who want to pick a weapon from the table can do so, and people who would rather make up their own can use some guidelines from a sidebar.
Yeah, I know that historical accuray isn't (and shouldn't) be a major concern in D&D, but it does seem a little wierd to me that katanas and spiked chains are included in a list that's mostly pseudo-European.  I'm suggesting that doing away with weapon lists altogether would be preferable.
Yeah I'd prefer the Gamma World system and leave the min-maxing hobbyists to an optional inclusion. Then add customisation based upon weapon damage types instead of damage die differences. Maybe they'll include a Gamma World type system as optional (more likely than the reverse).
weapon damage types



I still can't understand why these are a thing.

So I can bludgeon with my quarterstaff, but not with the haft of my spear/axe/polearm, or back of my axe, or pommel of my sword? A heavy two handed axe doesn't bash armour in like a small mace and is only good for slashing? My shortsword can't slash? I can't cut with a rapier? My longsword or katana can't stab people?

It appears that weapon damage types were in earlier editons because of a misguided attempt at realism and in later editions because they were in earlier editions.

Misguided attempts?
D&D?!

No. Really?
weapon damage types



I still can't understand why these are a thing.


Yeah me either, but edition throwbacks are back in so trying to work with them. I suggested a while back that it should be more a class (or power source thing) than tied to weapons - showing how a character becomes progressively better at using weapons - being able to use damage types so long as it's feasible for that weapon e.g. smashing someone with a pommel vs. using the point/edge of the blade.



oh, the real world had katanas, they were just useless against heavy armour.



Blasphemy!!! Everyone knows the katana was a super-sword that is capable of cutting a tank in half - and one made of titanium at that!

Okay, being serious...I kind of like the weapon tables, but I think a lot of the weapons can be removed, and grouped together. We don't really need 5 types of sword, 6 types of axe and 7 types of blunt weapon when there are minor differences between them. I also don't think we need two types of spear - they're likely to be the same weapon, but held differently! I'd create separate entries only where the rules differ, so something like:

Simple weapons: (strength to attack)
Unarmed/improvised weapon - 1d4 blunt
Blunt weapon (club, mace, hammer) - 1d6 blunt
Hatchet/handaxe - 1d6 slashing, can be thrown
Spear - 1d6 piercing, or 1d8 piercing and reach when used two-handed

Martial weapons: (average of strength and dex to attack)
Axe - 1d8 slashing, negates shield bonus to AC
Single handed sword - 1d8 slashing, or 1d8 piercing finesse weapon when used two-handed
Curved sword (falchion, scimitar) - 1d8 slashing, or 1d6 slashing finesse weapon
Morningstar - 1d8 blunt and piercing

Finesse weapons: (dexterity to attack)
Dagger - 1d4 piercing, can be used with strength to attack as a simple weapon, can be thrown
Short sword/rapier - 1d6 piercing
Elf sword/katana/Chinese broadsword/whatever - 1d8 slashing, two-handed
Quarterstaff - 1d8 blunt, two-handed, can be used with strength to attack as a simple weapon

Heavy weapons: (strength to attack, not usable by halflings)
Two handed axe/bardiche - 1d10 slashing, negates shield bonus to AC
Two handed sword/flamberge - 1d12 slashing
Two handed blunt (mauler, footman's flail etc) - 1d12 blunt
Polearm (bill, halberd, glaive etc) - 1d12 blunt and piercing (can be used as axe and spear groups)
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!

oh, the real world had katanas, they were just useless against heavy armour.



Blasphemy!!! Everyone knows the katana was a super-sword that is capable of cutting a tank in half - and one made of titanium at that!

Okay, being serious...I kind of like the weapon tables, but I think a lot of the weapons can be removed, and grouped together. We don't really need 5 types of sword, 6 types of axe and 7 types of blunt weapon when there are minor differences between them. I also don't think we need two types of spear - they're likely to be the same weapon, but held differently! I'd create separate entries only where the rules differ, so something like:

Simple weapons: (strength to attack)
Unarmed/improvised weapon - 1d4 blunt
Blunt weapon (club, mace, hammer) - 1d6 blunt
Hatchet/handaxe - 1d6 slashing, can be thrown
Spear - 1d6 piercing, or 1d8 piercing and reach when used two-handed

Martial weapons: (average of strength and dex to attack)
Axe - 1d8 slashing, negates shield bonus to AC
Single handed sword - 1d8 slashing, or 1d8 piercing finesse weapon when used two-handed
Curved sword (falchion, scimitar) - 1d8 slashing, or 1d6 slashing finesse weapon
Morningstar - 1d8 blunt and piercing

Finesse weapons: (dexterity to attack)
Dagger - 1d4 piercing, can be used with strength to attack as a simple weapon, can be thrown
Short sword/rapier - 1d6 piercing
Elf sword/katana/Chinese broadsword/whatever - 1d8 slashing, two-handed
Quarterstaff - 1d8 blunt, two-handed, can be used with strength to attack as a simple weapon

Heavy weapons: (strength to attack, not usable by halflings)
Two handed axe/bardiche - 1d10 slashing, negates shield bonus to AC
Two handed sword/flamberge - 1d12 slashing
Two handed blunt (mauler, footman's flail etc) - 1d12 blunt
Polearm (bill, halberd, glaive etc) - 1d12 blunt and piercing (can be used as axe and spear groups)


I know players that would find this more complex.
My wife in particular would say what's wrong with find you long sword or battle axe or longbow and write down the following stats?
And really, why is it a problem? Yes, the lists get out of hand eventually, and there will be a book with EVERY weapon ever in it, but the list here is just fine.
As far as the listed bludgeoning, piercing, slashing I always rule that is the general way the weapon is being used. When they tell be they want to do something more than just hit the guy, I let them use other parts of the weapon. Pommel or haft smash the back of the head to KO a guard with your axe, dagger or sword, no problem. Always slashing swords run the opponent through on kill hits.

As far as the listed bludgeoning, piercing, slashing I always rule that is the general way the weapon is being used. When they tell be they want to do something more than just hit the guy, I let them use other parts of the weapon. Pommel or haft smash the back of the head to KO a guard with your axe, dagger or sword, no problem. Always slashing swords run the opponent through on kill hits.



I still have a problem with this, since it's getting into "mother may I use my sword as blunt against the skeletons?" territory, and is going to provoke arguments at some tables.

Just remove it, or have it as an optional extra if you really really need to leave it in. It's a silly throwback to AD&D that 2e had as an optional rule and 3e/4e never even really used beyond a gimmick about avoiding damage resistance on a few monsters. It adds nothing to the game, and serves only to slow things down and frustrate martial characters for no good reason.

Detailed weapon tables aren't even necessary, let alone an attempt to shoehorn every type of weapon damage into 3 categories which results in stupid stuff like halberds, sickles, and katanas doing the same type of damage.
Trouble with that, though, is that it stretches believability far and beyond its reasonable level when you can run a stone golemn through with a rapier.

Just create a generic rule where you can use any weapon against something that is resistant to that damage type, but it counts as an improvised weapon, since you're not using the weapon's primary attack function. Problem solved!

(anything can be used as a club, and I can't think of anything in D&D that can only be hurt by piercing weapons)
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!
No, don't!

I can understand the desire to simplify but the weapons and armour tables have always been a great source of imagination to me.  Especially as a young gamer I spent hours looking at the weapons tables an dreaming of heroes using each.  Reducing the presentation of weapons to something formulaic will will really suck the life out of this experience.

Also, the Rakshasa and Vampire are particularly vulnerable to piercing weapons, though specific ones.
Personally I LIKE weapon types.  (Hell, I'd like to add stat minimums for weapons too.  Don't have 13 strength?  No Bastard Sword for you!  But that's a pipe dream at best.)  Esepcially since if you remove weapon types, all you have are like five types of dice to roll.  Doesn't help the imagination at all, for me.   And worse, you can strip that down to a boring three catagories.

Light weapons do 1d6 
Medium do 1d8
Heavy does 1d10

And what happens to magic weapons then?  'It's a D10 +1 weapon!  Huzzah!'

That sounds awfully dull to me. 
Trouble with that, though, is that it stretches believability far and beyond its reasonable level when you can run a stone golemn through with a rapier.


But cutting it up with a hand axe makes perfect sense?
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
I'd like to see as much detail as possible in the weapons.  Personally if two are very similar and we had other tiny modifiers that would make them distinct I think that would be neet.  I'm just too tired to come up with anything right now
I'm just too tired to come up with anything right now

What, like rapier costing more than twice as much for the same damage output as a shortsword, with the only functional difference between the two being one pound?

I'm under the impression that the weapon chart isn't finished.

I was concerned when I saw that the Katana is just an expensive Quarterstaff that does slashing.  Disbelief kicked in full gear when I saw that the Scimitar is just an expensive Short Sword.

It seems like some stats were cut right before they published the playtest and some things didn't get proofed. My guess would be there were some crit modifiers in a previous iteration.

I like the idea of having a good sized (but far from exhaustive) list of weapons.  But if there's not enough of a difference between two things to have different stats, they should be lumped together. 
No, don't!

I can understand the desire to simplify but the weapons and armour tables have always been a great source of imagination to me.  Especially as a young gamer I spent hours looking at the weapons tables an dreaming of heroes using each.  Reducing the presentation of weapons to something formulaic will will really suck the life out of this experience.

Also, the Rakshasa and Vampire are particularly vulnerable to piercing weapons, though specific ones.



As a young gamer, I too spent hours looking through weapons tables and I remember those days with fond nostalgia.  I also remember spending hours looking through the equipment lists in the 2nd edition PHB and writing down everything my character was carrying in small, cramped handwriting.  I had time to spend on that amount of detail.  The idea of spending time on writing "Bullseye lantern (1), Gallons of lamp oil (3), Wineskin (1), Shoes (2)" now seems ludicrous to me.  As an older gamer, I want something that gets me to actually playing the game faster.

To bring it back to the topic, weapons lists tend to create good and bad choices.  Anyone remember the khopesh?  I think doing away with weapon lists gets you to playing the game faster and lets your weapon of choice be about as good as somebody else's.

Then again, if I want balance and something that lets me get straight to the action without wading through lists and charts, maybe D&D is not the game for me.
I'm just too tired to come up with anything right now

What, like rapier costing more than twice as much for the same damage output as a shortsword, with the only functional difference between the two being one pound?



I agree to SOME consolidation of weapons, though.  I mean, classify a 'short blade' as anything from an ancient Gladius to a Town/Cut and Thrust sword to a Rapier.  But axes and maces/hammers should still have their own categories.
I love the idea of streamlined weapon types, though I'd say a customizable system, with an example table would be just fine, and could possibly add to both worlds.

For example:

Light: 1d6
Martial: 1d8
Heavy(2 Handed): 1d10

Each weapon gets a number of "weapon features" based on its crafted type - 1pt for poorly crafted, 2 pts of standard, 3 for mastercrafted.

Then have a list of qualities:
Curved: +1 Init (+2 if character has quick draw...just making stuff up here)
Reach: 5' reach
(2pts) Sharp/Heavy/Folded Steel/Whatever: Increased damage by 1 die type
Increased Crit Range
etc, etc, etc.

This would allow for a variety of weapon combinations, and a "weapon list" could be created for games that want a static set.  For those that want a sword to damage like an axe, they can create it.

Yes, this would allow a DM (or a blacksmith player?) to create some absurdly silly weapons (like a dagger with reach), but since creating weapon types is usually up to the gm, he can review that at his leisure.

This is very badly put together, and just an example.  I love the idea because its flexible, and allows people to choose characters based on look not on stats (ie, I dont want to HAVE to use a BS with my build because I'd lose X dpr and be a liability to my party, so I make a greatsword with similar stats). 
Damage output should really be a function of class, with the actual weapon itself being cosmetic.

The only thing keeping everyone's weapon from being "the one that does the most hurtins" in past editions has been hard weapon-denial based on class, or bribing PCs into using weaker weapons via Weapon Finesse.

Gary & Dave stuck '74 Cleric with a mace to cut his damage output down.  The "don't draw blood, mister preacherman" thing was just a thin attempt at painting flavor over it to obfuscate a balance issue.
Damage output should really be a function of class, with the actual weapon itself being cosmetic.

The only thing keeping everyone's weapon from being "the one that does the most hurtins" in past editions has been hard weapon-denial based on class, or bribing PCs into using weaker weapons via Weapon Finesse.

Gary & Dave stuck '74 Cleric with a mace to cut his damage output down.  The "don't draw blood, mister preacherman" thing was just a thin attempt at painting flavor over it to obfuscate a balance issue.



Because Mr. Van Helsing Cleric was dominating the game, and not just because another Player was playing an uber Vampire.

it was very, very competitive back then, because the game was still a thinly disguised minis war game.
Damage output should really be a function of class, with the actual weapon itself being cosmetic.

The only thing keeping everyone's weapon from being "the one that does the most hurtins" in past editions has been hard weapon-denial based on class, or bribing PCs into using weaker weapons via Weapon Finesse.

Gary & Dave stuck '74 Cleric with a mace to cut his damage output down.  The "don't draw blood, mister preacherman" thing was just a thin attempt at painting flavor over it to obfuscate a balance issue.



Or pential combat related tricks that certain weapon qualities provided.
Trouble with that, though, is that it stretches believability far and beyond its reasonable level when you can run a stone golemn through with a rapier.


But cutting it up with a hand axe makes perfect sense?



Well, no. Hence why you'd need a blunt weapon.

If they were going to do away with damage types, they should at the very least rule that finesse weapons don't work against certain enemies. You try and stab something made of stone and your weapon will bounce. You might have more luck hitting it with the pommel, but then you can't do the whole finesse thing.

The only thing keeping everyone's weapon from being "the one that does the most hurtins" in past editions has been hard weapon-denial based on class, or bribing PCs into using weaker weapons via Weapon Finesse.



I'd prefer it if weapons had different properties, making them more (or less) useful in certain situations. If the only difference between them is damage output, then everyone will just take the one that does the most damage, that they can use.

As for the "blunt weapons" thing, that was an actual edict created to stop priests from taking up arms and disobeying the "thou shalt not kill" commandment. Trouble is, the priests - always ready to find loopholes - read that as "Oooooooh, shed blood! Right. So killing is fine, as long as I use a blunt weapon, right? Great! To war, everyone!"
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!
What I'd do is this. You've got improvised weapons and martial weapons. Improvised is anything that wasn't made as a weapon. Pick up a shovel, it's improvised. A gnarled stick you found. Butcher's knife. Rocks. Chair. Stuff like that. Martial weapons are any weapon that is ACTUALLY a weapon. Good old fashioned longswords. Spears. Halberds. Axes. Maces. bows, crossbows, REAL throwing knives. Everyone can use every weapon. Different, I know. But it makes sense. Everyone can use these things at base efficiency, and that's what a weapons base stats should be. Let's keep going.

Weapons are further divided into heavy and light. Heavy weapons do more damage. Light weapons have increased accuracy, and would likely work like a finesse weapon, allowing the use of DEX. Simple. As well, there is one handed and two handed. Two handed does more damage, but one handed of course leaves a hand free. These rules apply for both melee and ranged weapons. Throwable hand weapons, things that you can use in melee and at range, do less damage than their normal type would dictate, and are always one handed.

So if we made a quick chart, it'd look a bit like this. The baseline for this chart is the trusty longsword, one handed, heavy, and 1d8:

              Light      Heavy
Thrown   1d4        1d6
1-Hand   1d6        1d8
2-Hand   1d8        1d10
Light weapons grant +1 to attack rolls

This chart applies for both improvised and martial weapons. Improvised weapons give you disadvantage when attacking with them. The nubers probably aren't right, but I'm just doing this for sake of illustration.

But what about the difference between an ax and a sword and a spear, I hear you say? This chart is too generic! Well, each weapon would have a type, like ax, sword, spear, dagger, bow, xbow, whatever. They wouldn't do anything. To a person untrained with a weapon, it doesn't matter what it is, they just hit with it. And the thing to remember is that the weapon chart is for base usage, without training. With training, the type would unlock abilities or properties. Martial classes would have an easier time getting training, and would likely start out with one or two weapon types already trained. Some improvised weapons may also be judged to have a weapon type, in which caseyou could use your abilities with them!

This system is simple, elegant, and inclusive. You can make all sorts of weapons using it, and a short table should be included with examples. Again, the trusty longsword is exactly the same in this system as it was in every prior edition, and the same goes for many other weapons. Short sword (1H,Light) is still 1d6. Daggers (Thrown,Light) are still 1d4. And at the same time, it elevates training in a weapon beyond just either a boring mechanical bonus or removal of a penalty. It might be very wise for a character to have multiple weapons trained so they can switch to suit the situation, and at the same time they will be able to use a non-trained weapon without crippling lose of basic ability.

Of course, something like this is too radical for Next. Even though, again, pretty much every popular D&D weapon fits nicely into this system, it just doesn't FEEEEEEEEL like D&D without the need for huge tables that sometimes make no sense and have absolutly no explaination for why values were chosen, and without needing to wade through countless trap options to find the things that are actually worth anything, character concept be damned. Still, it'd be nice if there was finally an edition of D&D where I can pick up a spear and not be sub-par...
EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
I will say this is one thing I liked about core 3.x

By and large they did a good job of balancing out the various martial weapons. With Crit Range and Crit Multiplier in play it gave you a number of things to vary weapons. Base Damage, able to be finesed or not, damage type, crit multiplier, crit range, reach, and on top of that other random things like bonus's to trip or disarm, the ability to throw it, etc. 

I don't mind a somewhat diverse list. However, it needs to be done in a way that each weapon is at least somewhat different than another to make a point to the choices other than just asthetics.  
I have to agree with Zyph.  The Crit range and multipliers worked well in 3e.  Not sure how they would do in DDN, but as I said earlier, some paring down is good, although I also agree with Ranger's idea of making some monsters immune or halving damage for certain types of weapons vs. others.

Things like Axes and Maces being good against Undead (Yes, I know an axe is a slashing weapon, but like a mace most of it's power is based on it's head, and if you've ever chopped wood, you'd see just how much damage that sort of blow can do to a body, dead or not.)  While Maces and Hammers are also good against stone golems, or what not.

Maybe it's a bit fiddly, and best left to a Module, but that module should be considered. 
Yeah, I'll have to disagree with 603. Without clear mechainical differences between a Glaive/guisarme and a Guisarme/Glaive and a Guisarme/voulge and a Glaive/guisarme/voulge, it just doesn't feel like D&D.

I kid, I kid.

It's a great idea to simplify the weapon list. I don't see anything at all wrong with having Small, Medium, and Large weapons (if you want to be more complicated, add simple/finesse/martial to that) and calling it a day.

A similar thing could be done with armour. Just have light/medium/heavy categories. Put two types of armour in each category, one with lower AC and higher dex bonus, and one with higher AC and lower dex bonus.

Then everyone picks a weapon and some armour that's mechanically appropriate to their character and describes it however they want. There should be guidelines in the book like "A Knight's sword is likely to be medium, martial" and "A rogues dagger is likely to be small, finesse", or even a list of historical weapons that fit into each category.

That caters to the "I have plate mail and a long sword, I am a fighting-man" crowd and the historical accuracy crowd and the "My black iron armour glimmers with the fires of the forges of moradin" crowd.

Edit: On the historical thing... I don't think I'd like to play a game with any sort of actual historical accuracy, but some people do like to play that way. Catering to everyone wouldn't be that hard, especially if your solution is to simpllify mechanics and allow people to decide for themselves exactly what their gear looks like and is called.




Yep.

I'd even go further and say all weapons start at 1d4 without proficiency and 1d6 with proficiency. Then fighting style, weapon mastery, feats, ect. gradually increase the damage with the character's chosen weapon. Each weapon would have various features that would differentiate it from other weapons.

This would eliminate the bad habit of players grabbing the most damaging weapon they can and it would also allow players to utilize richer character concepts free from being slaves to innate weapon damage.

Just an idea, obviously, but I think it could be pretty cool. 
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

I'd even go further and say all weapons start at 1d4 without proficiency and 1d6 with proficiency. Then fighting style, weapon mastery, feats, ect. gradually increase the damage with the character's chosen weapon. Each weapon would have various features that would differentiate it from other weapons.

This would eliminate the bad habit of players grabbing the most damaging weapon they can and it would also allow players to utilize richer character concepts free from being slaves to innate weapon damage.

Actually, I'm beginning to think this is a great idea.

Premise: All weapons start at 1d4 for non-proficiency and 1d6 for proficiency. Damage modifiers and damage dice upgrades come from class features, feats, and other talents as the character advances in level.

That means if a Wizard wants to wield a great sword, whatever...that's cool. If a Fighter wants to dual-wield daggers...awesome. This frees players up from the "concept tax" that a lot of people complain about and opens up a wider range of character concepts. The theory is, if any character trains hard enough, any weapon can be deadly; from one's own bare hands to a 20-lb sword. 

Obviously, each weapon should still have various traits that make it special, but innate damage will no longer be one of those traits; A weapon is only as dangerous as the person wielding it.

And...for those that think this might betray the D&D canon, remember when "variable weapon damage" was optional in classic D&D? ;)
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

The theory is, if any character trains hard enough, any weapon can be deadly; from one's own bare hands to a 20-lb sword.



I'd actually venture that one's own bare hands are MORE deadly than a 20lb sword, because you'll never hit anything with a sword that heavy!

On a more serious note, I do kind of like that premise, as long as it doesn't turn into 4th edition "powers". I would like, however, to see special properties assigned to weapons to make them unique, otherwise there's no point differentiating between an axe, a sword and a pointed stick (other than RP fluff). Stuff like: (just off the top of my head)

Fast: this weapon is difficult to defend against. It ignores 1 point of dex-based AC bonus (shields and armour still grant bonuses as normal). Things like arming swords, and all finesse weapons, would have this.
Armour piercing: this weapon can crush, or punch, through armour and shields. It ignores 1 point of armour based AC bonus (dex still grants bonuses as normal). Things like maulers, battleaxes and two-handers would have this, as well as spears, arrows/bolts and polearms.
Defensive: if you take a full-round attack action, this weapon grants a +1 AC bonus due to its defensive nature. Quarterstaffs, polearms and the larger swords would have this.
Blunt: this weapon can be used to known people unconscious rather than kill them. It also ignores the damage resistance granted to skeletons and constructs. All blunt weapons, obviously, will have this.
Slashing: This weapon ignores the damage resistance granted to zombies and *insert other monsters that slashing weapons can hurt*. All axes would have this.

Of course, some would have disadvantages too:

Poor defence: this weapon grants an AC penalty, due to the fact that it can't be used to parry. Daggers, improvised weapons, natural attacks and unarmed strikes would have this. However, if the other person was using a similar weapon then this would not apply.
Slow: this weapon grants a +1 AC bonus to your opponent, because it's so slow. The opponent has to be able to fight normally to be able to take advantage of this. All two-handers would have this, except for polearms and spears.

That's the premise of what I have in mind. The categories should stay, I think, as it's an easy and convenient way of assigning proficiencies to classes. As for the "concept trap", however, I think that anything they do other than "every class can use every weapon with equal skill!" will cause that. Even "proficiency bonuses" and "lower damage dice for non-proficient weapons" is going to create a class/weapon divide, and some people are going to complain that the game encourages wizards to not use halberds.
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!
The theory is, if any character trains hard enough, any weapon can be deadly; from one's own bare hands to a 20-lb sword.



I'd actually venture that one's own bare hands are MORE deadly than a 20lb sword, because you'll never hit anything with a sword that heavy!

On a more serious note, I do kind of like that premise, as long as it doesn't turn into 4th edition "powers". I would like, however, to see special properties assigned to weapons to make them unique, otherwise there's no point differentiating between an axe, a sword and a pointed stick (other than RP fluff). Stuff like: (just off the top of my head)

Fast: this weapon is difficult to defend against. It ignores 1 point of dex-based AC bonus (shields and armour still grant bonuses as normal). Things like arming swords, and all finesse weapons, would have this.
Armour piercing: this weapon can crush, or punch, through armour and shields. It ignores 1 point of armour based AC bonus (dex still grants bonuses as normal). Things like maulers, battleaxes and two-handers would have this, as well as spears, arrows/bolts and polearms.
Defensive: if you take a full-round attack action, this weapon grants a +1 AC bonus due to its defensive nature. Quarterstaffs, polearms and the larger swords would have this.
Blunt: this weapon can be used to known people unconscious rather than kill them. It also ignores the damage resistance granted to skeletons and constructs. All blunt weapons, obviously, will have this.
Slashing: This weapon ignores the damage resistance granted to zombies and *insert other monsters that slashing weapons can hurt*. All axes would have this.

Of course, some would have disadvantages too:

Poor defence: this weapon grants an AC penalty, due to the fact that it can't be used to parry. Daggers, improvised weapons, natural attacks and unarmed strikes would have this. However, if the other person was using a similar weapon then this would not apply.
Slow: this weapon grants a +1 AC bonus to your opponent, because it's so slow. The opponent has to be able to fight normally to be able to take advantage of this. All two-handers would have this, except for polearms and spears.

That's the premise of what I have in mind. The categories should stay, I think, as it's an easy and convenient way of assigning proficiencies to classes. As for the "concept trap", however, I think that anything they do other than "every class can use every weapon with equal skill!" will cause that. Even "proficiency bonuses" and "lower damage dice for non-proficient weapons" is going to create a class/weapon divide, and some people are going to complain that the game encourages wizards to not use halberds.



i just came on here to post something similar myself ^_^

The theory is, if any character trains hard enough, any weapon can be deadly; from one's own bare hands to a 20-lb sword.



I'd actually venture that one's own bare hands are MORE deadly than a 20lb sword, because you'll never hit anything with a sword that heavy!





Cloud disagrees Tongue Out
As for the "concept trap", however, I think that anything they do other than "every class can use every weapon with equal skill!" will cause that. Even "proficiency bonuses" and "lower damage dice for non-proficient weapons" is going to create a class/weapon divide, and some people are going to complain that the game encourages wizards to not use halberds.



I want Wizards to be able to use halberds....and axes...spears...bows...and whatever else they want. There's absolutely no reason they shouldn't be able to. That's the point of this idea; to allow characters to use whatever weapons they want.

However, those weapons will be more effective in the hands of a Fighter, as that is what they specialize in; fighting.

I remember when I first started playing D&D, I was annoyed and irritated that Wizards couldn't wield swords like Gandalf. I wanted each wizard to be able to have their own Glamdring if they wanted. This weapon system would allow that...without the need to make up some weird hybrid wizard class.
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

As for the "concept trap", however, I think that anything they do other than "every class can use every weapon with equal skill!" will cause that. Even "proficiency bonuses" and "lower damage dice for non-proficient weapons" is going to create a class/weapon divide, and some people are going to complain that the game encourages wizards to not use halberds.



I want Wizards to be able to use halberds....and axes...spears...bows...and whatever else they want. There's absolutely no reason they shouldn't be able to. That's the point of this idea; to allow characters to use whatever weapons they want.

However, those weapons will be more effective in the hands of a Fighter, as that is what they specialize in; fighting.

I remember when I first started playing D&D, I was annoyed and irritated that Wizards couldn't wield swords like Gandalf. I wanted each wizard to be able to have their own Glamdring if they wanted. This weapon system would allow that...without the need to make up some weird hybrid wizard class.




if it will be anything like 3.5 then there is nothing actually stopping your wizard from wielding a halbard.

they will start with penalties for it because they aren't proficient, and then once they feat into it it'll operate like normal. i may not be understanding your proposition clearly, but to me it sounds very similer.

the reason why wizards never used those weapons or feated into those weapons back in the day was because they were useless to them. Wizards didn't like getting into melee range, so they took ranged weapons like crosbows instead. (even my wizard opted for a spear for melee because it had reach)
they will start with penalties for it because they aren't proficient, and then once they feat into it it'll operate like normal. i may not be understanding your proposition clearly, but to me it sounds very similer.



No penalties for wielding anything. All weapons do the same damage; 1d4.

Each character gets one weapon proficiency at 1st level (fighters are proficient in all weapons). Proficiency increases the damage to 1d6. So if a wizard wants to be proficient in Great Swords, they can be.

the reason why wizards never used those weapons or feated into those weapons back in the day was because they were useless to them. Wizards didn't like getting into melee range, so they took ranged weapons like crosbows instead. (even my wizard opted for a spear for melee because it had reach)

"back in the day" for me was 1982. That was when wizards couldn't even look at a sword let alone use it. And forget crossbows...those were illegal for magic-users too. All they got was a dagger or a staff.


D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.



No penalties for wielding anything. All weapons do the same damage; 1d4.

Each character gets one weapon proficiency at 1st level (fighters are proficient in all weapons). Proficiency increases the damage to 1d6. So if a wizard wants to be proficient in Great Swords, they can be.





yes, i see what you mean, but it's still the same.

the only thing that is different is the baseline. in 3.X the baselines was proficient, and then when you stepped out of those bounds you lost points on your to-hit.

in your version the baseline is not proficient, and you choose what you are better at.

to be honest, i like 3.X's version a little more. i think it makes more sense that a fighter would be baseline proficient with any weapon, keeping in mind that in #.x proficient did not mean masterful, fighters would still grow into their weapon of choice. just like how wizards could grow into their weapon of choice if they waned to devote the feats to it.

and it makes sense to me that a wizard really is only baseline proficient with simple weapons, as they devote most of their trainable day delving into the secrets of the arcane.


here is my question to you though.

why start at 1d4? what is wrong with every character getting 1 extra weapon (not weapon class, singular weapon) they are proficient in at full damage?

think about it, give a wizard a battle axe at the full 1d12, what really changes? not much to me, the wizard will get negatives to their to-hit and damage mod (unless the wizard stats heavy enough into strength). the fighter will still be better at melee regardless. no problem to me.
think about it, give a wizard a battle axe at the full 1d12, what really changes? not much to me, the wizard will get negatives to their to-hit and damage mod (unless the wizard stats heavy enough into strength). the fighter will still be better at melee regardless. no problem to me.

All weapons cause 1d6 damage with proficiency. So, a battle axe causes 1d6 damage, not 1d12.

Attack penalties are awkward and sludgy. When a character is not proficient, the weapon causes 1d4 damage. It's easier and requires less tinkering during battle. The idea is, everyone gets proficiency with at least one weapon of their choice at the start of the game.

Then, what I have in mind for weapon damage scaling and special weapon features is something like this (for example):

Weapon Expert: The character may choose a weapon they are proficient in and train extensively to be more deadly with it. The weapon's damage increases by 1 die (i.e., 1d6 becomes 1d8, 1d8 become 1d10, and 1d10 becomes 1d12). This feat may be taken up to 3 times per weapon.

Weapon Master: The character has become a master of one weapon they have three ranks of Weapon Expert in. When attacking with this weapon, they cause 3d6 damage and receive a +1 bonus to hit.

Mighty Cleave: When using an axe or great sword, the character can hack through their targets easier. When performing a Cleave maneuver, you make two extra attacks instead of one.

Rapid Strikes: When using a dagger or other small thrusting weapon you are proficient with, you may make two attacks on the same target with that weapon per action. Damage from that weapon is reduced by one die (i.e., 1d6 becomes 1d4, 1d8 becomes 1d6, etc.). If the character has Weapon Master feat with the weapon, the damage is reduced to 2d6.

So, a Wizard could potentially feat into great sword (at the expense of not buying other, more "wizardly" feats) with Weapon Expert: Great Sword (1d12) if they were so inclined.

Just as a Fighter could potentially feat into dagger with Weapon Master: Dagger and strike for 3d6 damage with each hit.

The main purpose of this system is to eliminate the need for weapon classes and innate weapon damage so players will chose their weapon based on how they envision their character, not by how much damage the weapon can do. Weapons start to show their uniqueness with the feats that the players choose.

 









































































WeaponDamage TypeSpeedAbilityCost
DaggerPierce1DEX or STR2 gp
SwordSlash/Pierce2DEX or STR10 gp
Great SwordSlash4STR20 gp
AxeSlash3STR15 gp
MaceBludgeon3STR6 gp
ClubBludgeon2STR1 sp
SpearPierce3DEX or STR5 sp
Bow Pierce4DEX 5 gp
StaffBludgeon2DEX or STR2 sp



Optional Rule (still fiddling with this concept)
Speed: This determines how fast the weapon can be used. The number is added to the character's initiative score. Initiative is determined by rolling 1d10 and adding the speed of the weapon. Players may subtract their Str mod from the weapon speed and then subtract Dex mod from the total result. Obviously, a lower score is faster (think of it as how many split seconds it requires for the character to act).
D&D Next - Basic and Expert Editions

I firmly believe that there should be two editions of the game; the core rules released as a "Basic" set and a more complicated expanded rules edition released as an "Expert" set. These two editions would provide separate entry points to the game; one for new players or players that want a more classic D&D game and another entry point for experienced gamers that want more options and all the other things they have come to expect from previous editions.

Also, they must release several rules modules covering the main elements of the game (i.e., classes, races, combat, magic, monsters, etc.) upon launch to further expand the game for those that still need more complexity in a particular element of the game.


Here's a mockup of the Basic Set I created.



(CLICK HERE TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)
  

Basic Set

This boxed set contains a simple, "bare bones" edition of the game; the core rules. It's for those that want a rules-light edition of the game that is extremely modifiable or for new players that get intimidated easily by too many rules and/or options. The Basic Set contains everything needed to play with all the "classic" D&D races (i.e., Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling) and classes (i.e., Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard) all the way up to maximum level (i.e., 20th Level).

The Basic boxed set contains:

Quick Start Rules
A "choose your own way" adventure intended as an intro to RPGs and basic D&D terms.

Player's Handbook
(Softcover, 125 pages)
Features rules for playing the classic D&D races and classes all the way up to 20th level.

Dungeon Master's Guide

(Softcover, 125 pages)
Includes the basic rules for dungeon masters.

Monster Manual
(Softcover, 100 pages)
Includes all the classic iconic monsters from D&D. 

Introductory Adventure
(Keep on the Borderlands)
An introductory adventure for beginning players and DMs.

Also includes: 

Character Sheets
Reference Sheets
Set of Dice


Expert Set

A set of hardbound rules that contains the core rules plus expanded races and classes, more spells and a large selection of optional rules modules — that is, pretty much everything that experienced players have come to expect. Each expert edition manual may be purchased separately, or in a boxed set. The Expert set includes:

Expert PHB (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus 10 playable races, 10 character classes, expanded selection of spells and rules modules for players.)
Expert DMG (Hardcover, 250 pages. $35 Includes core rules plus expanded rules modules for DMs.)
Expert MM (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes an expanded list of monsters and creatures to challenge characters)


Expansions

These expansion rules modules can be used with both the Basic and Expert sets. Each expansion covers one specific aspect of the game, such as character creation, combat, spells, monsters, etc.) 

Hall of Heroes (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes a vast selection of playable character races and classes, new and old all in one book)
Combat and Tactics (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes dozens of new and old optional rules for combat all in one book)
Creature Compendium (Hardcover, 350 pages.$35 Includes hundreds of monsters, new and old all in one book)
The Grimoire (Hardcover, 225 pages. $35 Includes hundreds of new and old spells all in one book)





A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage

A Million Hit Points of Light: Shedding Light on Damage and Hit Points

In my personal campaigns, I use the following system for damage and dying. It's a slight modification of the long-standing principles etsablished by the D&D game, only with a new definition of what 0 or less hit points means. I've been using it for years because it works really well. However, I've made some adjustments to take advantage of the D&D Next rules. I've decided to present the first part in a Q&A format for better clarity. So let's begin...

What are hit points?
The premise is very simple, but often misunderstood; hit points are an abstraction that represent the character's ability to avoid serious damage, not necessarily their ability to take serious damage. This is a very important distinction. They represent a combination of skillful maneuvering, toughness, stamina and luck. Some targets have more hit points because they are physically tougher and are harder to injure...others have more because they are experienced combatants and have learned how to turn near fatal blows into mere scratches by skillful maneuvering...and then others are just plain lucky. Once a character runs out of hit points they become vulnerable to serious life-threatening injuries.

So what exactly does it mean to "hit" with a successful attack roll, then?
It means that through your own skill and ability you may have wounded your target if the target lacks the hit points to avoid the full brunt of the attack. That's an important thing to keep in mind; a successful "hit" does not necessarily mean you physically damaged your target. It just means that your attack was well placed and forced the target to exert themselves in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to further attacks. For example, instead of severing the target's arm, the attack merely grazes them leaving a minor cut.

But the attack did 25 points of damage! Why did it only "graze" the target?
Because the target has more than 25 hit points. Your attack forced them to exert a lot of energy to avoid the attack, but because of their combat skill, toughness, stamina and luck, they managed to avoid being seriously injured. However, because of this attack, they may not have the reserves to avoid your next attack. Perhaps you knocked them off balance or the attack left them so fatigued they lack the stamina to evade another attack. It's the DM's call on how they want to narrate the exact reason the blow didn't kill or wound the target.

Yeah, but what about "touch" attacks that rely on physical contact?
Making physical contact with a target is a lot different than striking them, so these types of attacks are the exception. If a touch attack succeeds, the attacker manages to make contact with their target.

If hit points and weapon damage don't always represent actual damage to the target, then what does it represent?
Think of the damage from an attack as more like a "threat level" rather than actual physical damage that transfers directly to the target's body. That is, the more damage an attack does, the harder it is to avoid serious injury. For example, an attack that causes 14 points of damage is more likely to wound the target than 3 points of damage (depending on how many hit points the target has left). The higher the damage, the greater the chance is that the target will become seriously injured. So, an attack that does 34 points of damage could be thought of as a "threat level of 34." If the target doesn't have the hit points to negate that threat, they become seriously injured.

Ok, but shouldn't armor reduce the amount of damage delivered from an attack?
It does reduce damage; by making it harder for an attack to cause serious injury. A successful hit against an armored target suggests that the attack may have circumvented the target's armor by striking in a vulnerable area.

What about poison and other types of non-combat damage?
Hit point loss from non-physical forms of damage represents the character spitting the poison out just in time before it takes full strength or perhaps the poison just wasn't strong enough to affect them drastically, but still weakens them. Again, it's the DMs call on how to narrate the reasons why the character avoids serious harm from the damage.

If hit points don't don't represent actual damage then how does that make sense with spells like Cure Serious Wounds and other forms of healing like healer kits with bandages?
Hit points do represent some physical damage, just not serious physical damage. Healing magic and other forms of healing still affect these minor wounds just as well as more serious wounds. For example, bandaging up minor cuts and abrasions helps the character rejuvenate and relieve the pain and/or fatigue of hit point loss. The key thing to remember is that it's an abstraction that allows the DM freedom to interpret and narrate it as they see fit.

What if my attack reduces the target to 0 or less hit points?
If a player is reduced to 0 or less hit points they are wounded. If a monster or NPC is reduce to 0 or less hit points they are killed.

Why are monsters killed immediately and not players?
Because unless the monsters are crucial to the story, it makes combat resolution much faster. It is assumed that players immediately execute a coup de grace on wounded monsters as a finishing move.

What if a character is wounded by poison or other types of non-physical damage?
If a character becomes wounded from non-combat damage they still receive the effects of being wounded, regardless if they show any physical signs of injury (i.e., internal injuries are still considered injuries).

Ok. I get it...but what happens once a character is wounded?
See below.
 

Damage and Dying

Once a character is reduced to 0 or less hit points, they start taking real damage. In other words, their reserves have run out and they can no longer avoid taking serious damage.

  1. Characters are fully operational as long as they have 1 hit point or more. They may have minor cuts, bruises, and superficial wounds, but they are are not impaired significantly. 
  2. Once they reach 0 or less hit points, they become Wounded (see below).That is, they have sustained a wound that impairs their ability to perform actions.
  3. If they reach a negative amount of hit points equal or greater than their Constitution score, they are Incapacitated. This means they are in critical condition and could possibly die.
  4. Characters will die if their hit points reach a negative amount greater than their Constitution score, plus their current level.

Unharmed: 1 hp or more
Wounded: 0 hp or less
Incapacitated: -(Constitution) to -(Constitution+Level)
Dead: Less than -(Constitution +Level)

Wounded
When the character reaches 0 or less hit points they become wounded. Wounded characters receive disadvantage on all attacks and saving throws until they heal back up to 1 hit point or more. This allows for a transitory stage between healthy and dying, without having to mess around with impairment rules while the character still has hit points left.

Incapacitated
Characters begin dying when they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution score. At which point, they must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw on each of their following turns (the disadvantage from being wounded does not apply for these saving throws).

If successful, the character remains dying, but their condition does not worsen.

If the saving throw fails, another DC 10 Constitution saving throw must be made. If that one fails, the character succumbs to their wounds and dies. If successful, the character stabilizes and is no longer dying.

Finally, if a dying character receives first aid or healing at any point, they immediately stabilize.

Dead
Characters will die if they reach a negative amount of hit points equal to their Constitution, plus their current level. Thus, if an 8th level character with a Constitution score of 12 is down to 4 hit points then takes 24 points of damage (reducing their hit points to -20) the attack kills them outright.

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