Hit Points, thresholds, save or die

I've been having this idea about hit points and thresholds that I'd like to share with you guys. I'm sure someone already came up with the idea but if it did, I missed the thread.


So Hit Points are an abstract notion that includes luck, parries, blocks, evades, fatigue, mental stamina, etc...


With this definition of hit points, why doesn't a bull rush or a sleep spell deal damage? You're using your blocks, evades or experience to avoid the bull rush. You're fighting off the effect of sleep. Having these actions deal damage makes sense with that definition of hit points. The only problem is that you don't want everything to be "just damage" and you want the effect of sleep or bull rush to go off before the monster hits 0 HP.


My idea is to combine these "effect damage" with damage thresholds. Spells such as sleep, or bull rushes, trips, and so on all deal damage. Whenever you are the target of such an attack, you decide whether to defend yourself or not (before the attack and damage roll). If you decide to defend yourself, your opponent rolls an attack and damage roll as normal. If the damage exceeds your threshold, you are affected by the "special effect" part of the attack. If you don't defend yourself, you are automatically affected by the attack but take no hit point damage.


I'll give an example. Lets assume that you have a physical defense that represents your ability to avoid physical attacks (trip, bull rush), and a magical defense that represents your ability to avoid magical attacks (sleep, slay living).


Special attacks would look like this:

Sleep

You deal 3d6 effect damage (Wisdom half). If the spell deals more than your target's magical defense rating, the target falls asleep for 1 minute. Damage exceeding your magical defense is ignored.

Bull Rush
You  deal 4d6 effect damage (Strength half). If the attack deals more than your target's physical defense rating, you push the target 5'. If you beat your target's physical defense rating by 5 or more, you push the target 10' instead. Damage exceeding your physical defense is ignored.

Hamstring
Make a regular weapon attack roll. If the attack deals more than your target's physical defense rating, the target's speed is reduced by 10' for 1 minute. If you beat your target's physical defense rating by 5 or more, the target is also knocked prone. If you beat your target's physical defense rating by 15 or more, you chop his leg off.

These are the benefits I see to the system:

  1. All classes use the same mechanics to take down their enemies. It's not on the one side spellcasters that blast their enemies with save or die effects and melee that hack into hit points. Everybody is dealing hit point damage, and when you're a little lucky, you get added effects.

  2. Save or die/save or suck are less potent against tougher opponents without having to tweak the success rate. Sleep can always have a 65% chance of success against all critters. Weaker opponents would fall asleep automatically, stronger opponents would require both a failed save and a high damage roll to be affected.

  3. The scaling mechanism is easy to implement. Thresholds increase with level and so does damage. A sleep spell in a 5th level spell slot might deal 7d6 damage instead of 3d6 damage. Monsters of the same level as the PCs would have defenses that increase accordingly.

  4. Non-damaging melee options such as Bull Rush and Trip always are a valid option because they also deal damage.

  5. Shields could increase your physical threshold. I think the game would be more interesting if the choice between a 2-handed weapon and a sword and board wasn't just chosing between +1 to AC and +1 to damage.

  6. You can bring back mechanics such as spell resistance or spells such as antimagic field or globe of invulnerability. All of these could be modelized as damage reduction against spells.


Anyways, what are your thoughts? Too complicated? Too abstract?

no
I think Hamstring is more useful as a Maneuver for CS dice than a specific rule anyone can perform. But I'm not opposed to it being a generic attack like Bull Rush or Grapple. Hamstringing someone could be done with a successful melee attack and you reduce the target's speed by 1/2 (for 1 round) in lieu of adding your ability score modifier to damage. I think HP threshold should be an avenue to tread down as far as mechanics go, but adding damage to these things might be a bit overboard.

no



You wield words like a Samurai with a Katana.  
First of all: in your system, do people still have hp totals? Because it sounds like you could ditch those.
I think your idea has potential but not that much of it. Here are my main issues with it:
1- It sounds incredibly very much NOT like D&D.
2- It sounds too complicated, specially in the D&D enviroment. 
3- It is, in fact, too counter intuitive. Having sleep deal damage is weird.
4- It is also very abstract, so it doesn't really solve most of the abstraction problems of hp (at least that's how I see it)

Still "if it deals more than X damage, do Y" sounds like an interesting idea. 
With this definition of hit points, why doesn't a bull rush or a sleep spell deal damage? You're using your blocks, evades or experience to avoid the bull rush. You're fighting off the effect of sleep. Having these actions deal damage makes sense with that definition of hit points. The only problem is that you don't want everything to be "just damage" and you want the effect of sleep or bull rush to go off before the monster hits 0 HP.
[..]
Sleep

You deal 3d6 effect damage (Wisdom half). If the spell deals more than your target's magical defense rating, the target falls asleep for 1 minute. Damage exceeding your magical defense is ignored.


It gets a little close to the 4e attack powers where everything had to deal damage. There's something odd about the idea of using sleep at the end of combat and having it kill a group of monsters outright.

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I really like the idea of Sleep as a method of taking your enemy alive.  In any case, it's also exactly the sort of thing you would want to use in a hostage situation.

Not dealing damage is a benefit of some spells and abilities.

The metagame is not the game.

Its a little too far from D&D so I doubt they will ever use it.  To tell you the truth though, I like it.

I would include it in a system that mushes D&D's HPs, Star War's HPs and Wounds and Star Wars:SAGA Edition's HPs and Threshold.

HPs are totally abstract...as normal.  0 HPs result in the Unconscious condition.  Wounds result in Death.

All attacks/abilities deal HP damage.

Threshold is the amount of damage someone can mitigate without resulting in a Wound or Condition.

Some attacks/abilities cause Wounds when the Threshold is exceeded.  Some Conditions, and some result in both.

Saves can go back to 4Es version.
It's taking the abstraction to another level. Like reasoning with metaphors; money is speach, corporations are people, ergo the federal and state laws cannot abridge a corporations ability to spend money.
 Effects end after a designated period. Damage lingers until healed. Healing shouldn't counteract the sleep spell. Yelling and shaking a bleeding body should not increase the amount of usable blood in the body nor seal the wounds.

i dont understand why Hamstring doesnt do damage using your reasoning? 

It gets a little close to the 4e attack powers where everything had to deal damage.

4E of what gaming system? It ain't 4E D&D.
There's something odd about the idea of using sleep at the end of combat and having it kill a group of monsters outright.

That, I'll agree with.

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i dont understand why Hamstring doesnt do damage using your reasoning? 



It does. The difference with the other 2 is that you use your weapon's damage instead of using a predefined number of die.
I really like the idea of Sleep as a method of taking your enemy alive.  In any case, it's also exactly the sort of thing you would want to use in a hostage situation.



Good point. And I totally agree with you.

Which means that you need to seperate the fatigue and health components of hit points...

Which also means, it's not going to happen in D&D.

Oh well, that was just an idea.
Or we could bring back non lethal damage. IMO, it was one of the rule of 3.x that made sense without being too complicated. Having Sleep or a Bull Rush deal non lethal damage makes sense.
Using full hit points as a threshold makes sense, when you consider an abundant amount of hit points (hit dice) a fighter has as the counter (rock), to the wizards sleep spell (scissors). That means if the wizard wanted to make a reliable sleep spell (paper) they would have to specialize, or move the spell up a couple slots. Whether hit points will be the ultimate solution, or giving martials classes better resistances remains to be seen.

I think the bigger problem is the wizard being able to rely solely on intelligence to increase their effectiveness, while the martial characters are dependent on mulitple abilities. I would prefer all classes use all abilities, where a wizard with sleep would use a con attack, and a charm would be a charisma based attack.
 
3- It is, in fact, too counter intuitive. Having sleep deal damage is weird.
4- It is also very abstract, so it doesn't really solve most of the abstraction problems of hp (at least that's how I see it)
 



Abstraction isnt a problem its a tool to be used.. loosing hp as draining you so you are fatigue in a way that leaves you more vulnerable to the next attack.

Sleeping Beauty:
A wave of grogginess passes over the subject draining them they loose ND6 hp and Slowing them d6 rounds. If reduced below 0 hp they are asleep. If you wish at this point you may tie off the spell (see wheel of time) so the subjects sleep will last indefinitely as a form of coma. A tied off sleep spell can be countered by use of a great ritual or by a condition defined by the caster at the time of the casting such as a kiss by a person of royal lineage.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Using full hit points as a threshold makes sense, when you consider an abundant amount of hit points (hit dice) a fighter has as the counter (rock), to the wizards sleep spell (scissors). That means if the wizard wanted to make a reliable sleep spell (paper) they would have to specialize, or move the spell up a couple slots. Whether hit points will be the ultimate solution, or giving martials classes better resistances remains to be seen.

 

Using full hit points as a threshold makes the game a little too "hit" "hit" "hit" "save or die".


I think the bigger problem is the wizard being able to rely solely on intelligence to increase their effectiveness, while the martial characters are dependent on mulitple abilities. I would prefer all classes use all abilities, where a wizard with sleep would use a con attack, and a charm would be a charisma based attack.



What does the fighter need besides strength or dexterity, and a big fat sword?
 
What does the fighter need besides strength or dexterity, and a big fat sword?



perception and deception and intimidation are key elements of fighting in real life... why not make them important in the game.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

The problem with using hit points as the threshold (full hp or current hp) for certain spells is that it doesn't seem fair to wizards and rogues.      Why should a wizard be more susceptible to sleep or especially charm?   Charm affects the mind, and wizards have very developed minds.   

I'd rather see all spells rely on a threshold based on monster/PC level with a saving throw appropriate for the type of attack.   Maybe sleep would be saved by Constitution, Wisdom, Charisma (choose the highest)......Maybe charm would be save vs. Int, Wis or Charisma (choose the highest).  

Spells that target a single opponent (of equal or lesser level) should probably gain an advantage of some sort (either advantage  or a healhy boost to DC) since it really stinks to cast a daily spell only to find that it had no effect.   While spells that target 1d4 or 1d6 levels (or other multiple creatures) would just rely on straight saves vs. DC.   

As I write this, I realize that it adds a lot of complication to the spells, but maybe there is a way to make it cleaner and easier to do while still satisfying the overall idea I'm getting at.  

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

The problem with using hit points as the threshold (full hp or current hp) for certain spells is that it doesn't seem fair to wizards and rogues.   


The classic hero is a fighter and they did shrug off the powers of the evil sorceror... mighty well.

I certainly have considered removing class distinctions from hit points... and adding methods for spell casters to spend there hit points as a cost for casting uber effects. The idea being when you act like a cannon you are glass. And for rogish ones if they are hit while trying to sneak attack they take somewhat more damage(they arent prepared to defend).

Ofcourse if you do that too far the wizard and rogue gets too much versatility but things like the fighters parry and its inverse would still give them some of the same. 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 


perception and deception and intimidation are key elements of fighting in real life... why not make them important in the game.



I'd really like to see a combat system that is realistic, with lots of tactical choices, that is fast and that is simple! If being a fighter was all about ruses, feints, intimidations, trying to create an opening to land a decapitating strike, I would be thrilled.

perception and deception and intimidation are key elements of fighting in real life... why not make them important in the game.



I'd really like to see a combat system that is realistic, with lots of tactical choices, that is fast and that is simple! If being a fighter was all about ruses, feints, intimidations, trying to create an opening to land a decapitating strike, I would be thrilled.



This seems like something that could be added pretty easily.   We'll probably get a taste of it when they show us the tactical module.   I agree with their overall premise that the module should be available for those who want to use it, but it should not be essential for the core experience.   Right now, I let my players (especially fighters) try stunts by making ability checks, and sometimes that approaches the style of play you seem to like.  Unfortunately, without more specific guidelines, I kind of feel like I'm cheating when I make these judgments.  

For example, in my game the last night, the fighter wanted to run up over a stalagmite/tite (not sure which one is on the ground) to attack a kobold that was hiding behind it.   He failed his dex check so I had him slip and fall backwards as he tried to hop over.   I also let him (or any PC for that matter) scream and yell at the monsters, gnashing his teeth and flexing his muscles to intimidate the foes.  He can either try to scare them away, or he can try to challenge them and rile them up so that they attack him instead of other PCs.   (Contest of skills  - Intimidate vs. Wisdom check)   This works well.    I guess I could let them try a feint as a move action and then give some kind of advantage for the next attack, or I could have him improvise some sort of wild swing to try to injure more than one weak opponent (even though there is a cleave ability) but for those actions it is harder to decide when to let them improvise it and when it needs to be limited for higher levels or for only PCs with a certain ability. 

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

The sleep spell doesn't make them tired or fatigued, it just makes them unconscious. Sleep restoration has been isolated from fatigue by the game abstraction. By the rules the characters never need to sleep.
 
Where did the HP go in the Hamstring description? What are the effects of limb loss? Are there special conditions for restoring a limb? Is there a way to make a character permanently disabled, barring divine intervention or a wish spell?
The sleep spell doesn't make them tired or fatigued, it just makes them unconscious. Sleep restoration has been isolated from fatigue by the game abstraction. By the rules the characters never need to sleep.



What causes fatigue damage is not sleep, it's fighting off the effect. Parry or blocking attacks causes "fatigue damage" and so does resisting spells. Anyways, that's my reasoning behind spells such as sleep that deal damage. If the spell is too powerful and you are unable to resist the effect (you reached your damage threshold), you're affected by the spell.

 
Where did the HP go in the Hamstring description? What are the effects of limb loss? Are there special conditions for restoring a limb? Is there a way to make a character permanently disabled, barring divine intervention or a wish spell?



Hamstring is a regular attack. You roll your a d20 to see if you hit, you roll damage normally (using your weapon damage) and if the damage is high enough to reach your opponent's damage threshold, your manage to maim your opponent.

I love a little gore in my games. So yeah, limb loss is bad ass and is permanent. It still can be healed by magic. But this shouldn't happen unless you're fighting a very strong opponent and only when your opponent gets lucky.
The sleep spell doesn't make them tired or fatigued, it just makes them unconscious. 


Why?
It makes them sleepy and why shouldnt being sleepy make it harder to defend against subsequent attacks? 

oh look unconcious happens at zero hitpoints doesnt it.

Fatigue doesnt have to be "muscle" fatigue.... or even physical energy loss ... although muscle fatigue is induced by a what amounts to a poison (hmmm like a Poison apple? ) in the cells and which are actually healed by a second wind.


  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

One draw back to all spells (sleep, etc) doing damage and applying to the abstact hit point mechanic is that we'd run the risk of making spells too generic, similar and boring.

I think it is necessary for different spells to affect or influence different aspects of the game.   Even if there is some damage and some effect, I'm not sure that's enough of a difference.


  

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Having the same win condition for each class during a fight makes them more part of the same team... effects over specialized can create there own win conditions its one of those differences that do not necessarily make the game better in a team environment.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Having the same win condition for each class during a fight makes them more part of the same team... effects over specialized can create there own win conditions its one of those differences that do not necessarily make the game better in a team environment.



This seems to be just a matter of taste.  I respectully don't feel that every PC attack needs to be based on the same mechanic for there to be team work. 

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Having the same win condition for each class during a fight makes them more part of the same team... effects over specialized can create there own win conditions its one of those differences that do not necessarily make the game better in a team environment.



This seems to be just a matter of taste.  I respectully don't feel that every PC attack needs to be based on the same mechanic for there to be team work. 



Here is an example of the difference
I won because he failed his save is the old one man band with its own tune... and is not a we won. (you other guys might as well not have attacked it the damage you dealt was meaningless -- just be good little meat shields)
Where as because your action gave me advantage it allowed me to hit and finally take it down  
OR to be in keeping with the current thread. Thresholds allow the allies actions to be actual contributers even if the wizard takes them down with a spell. Then atleast the team weakens the enemy.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Ok. I guess I miss understood a few things and now I can see your reasoning more clearly.

If the players and DM need to track Hit Points when ever someone falls asleep or wakes up this system would be imposing an unnecessary burden. The spell itself describes an effect that turns on and off under set conditions. It seems like a cleaner methodology to me.

I certainly like the idea of injury and disability being included in the game and would love to see your ideas on how to implement them simply. In another thread I made this proposal:
I think the whole idea of ability scores begs for a system where those abilities, body and mind, can be injured or destroyed. I know players hate penalties and will do anything to get around them but why can't this be included somewhere? The whole trend to minimize the benefits of ability modifiers on combat and spells is eliminating the potential of this option. They say it is for simplicity but I don't believe it is simpler.

The whole idea of traps is that if your adversary isn't killed by it, at least you have some king of advantage once they get to you. The 4e healing surge system totally made traps seem like silly time wasters that consume a resource and send you on your way. If there is no natural way to heal characters in a reasonable amount of time the players will hunker down and rest the healer until all the characters are topped off. The DM can over-rule this strategy at any time but doesn't want to upset the players or make them feel it is hopeless. 

I think the solution is to include a system of injury that can only be healed by advance care in a non-hostile environment. The injury will gradually decrease the characters effectiveness in very small increments but it demonstrates a higher level of realism that I think can be managed reasonably.

How about this:
When a character is reduced to 1/10th of their mac hit points they role 2d6's. The ability score that is associated with the number that come up will be  reduced by one. If the same numbers comes up, re-roll the second die until another number is reached. 
1 Str
2 Dex
3 Sta
4 Cha
5 Int
6 Wis

These wounds require an elaborate ritual or advanced mundane care in a non-hostile environment. This could be over the course of 7 days as per Jackofallparades suggestion.



It gives an abstract form of injury that is not easily repaired, the system is easy to manage without going into specifics details about what a person with no leg can and can't do (and describing every other permutation of injury). It also doesn't present the players with the possibility of targeting specific parts of the body to create devastating effects that unbalance play. I suppose if your system was the core system it might be possible to balance it. Would every player just try to decapitate with each attack? I'm just trying to extrapolate some of the key elements of your proposal here so I'm not saying any of this is what you actually intend.

So, what do you think, Sirs?