Hit Points, Thresholds, Save or Die, 2nd try!

Considering how much success I had last time with this thread, I decided to try another idea.

I like the threshold mechanics a lot. I think it's a great way to have save or die spells in the game without going back to AD&D's 35% chance of success or 3rd edition save or die madness.

There are two things I dislike about it though:
1) Hit Points are not a suitable indicator of a monster's ability to resist effects.
2) It isn't random. You never have a chance to affect a strong opponent no matter how hard you try.

The idea to fix the second issue is to have the player roll for "damage" as part of the spell.

For instance:

HOLD PERSON
Focusing on a small, straight piece of iron, you draw forth its properties and impose them on a creature you can see. Until the creature breaks free, it becomes like the iron, stiff and inert, frozen in place.
Effect: Choose a living humanoid within 100 feet of you that you can see. Roll 5d10+13. If the result is lower than your target's maximum hit points, the target's speed drops to 0 for 1 minute (Wisdom negates). If the result is higher than your target's maximum hit points, the target is paralyzed for 1 minute (Wisdom negates). As an action, a creature affected by this spell can make a Wisdom check against your spell save DC to end the effects of this spell.

If at the same time you want to fix the first issue, just add thresholds to the game and use those instead of hit points. Your mental threshold indicates how good you are at shrugging off mental effects (like charm person, intimidate, sleep) and a physical threshold indicates how good you are at avoiding physical effects (like poison, bull rush, slay living).
And I just realized these ideas were currently being discussed in another thread... Sorry about that.
Great idea whoever came up with it.  Get rid of threshholds.  Roll a set of dice that must exceed maximum hit points of the monster.  Very good idea.
The potential divide here is whether the effect should be based on maximum HP, as per Gnarls suggestion, or current HP, as per mine. Both have their pros and cons.

I've always preferred it be maximum hit points even in earlier editinos of D&D.  I didn't like the idea of damaging someone sufficiently and then whipping out power word kill on them.   Power word kill should work or not based upon your inherent toughness.  

I realize saying that that it is just my opinion.  I think it does make these wizard spells weaker my way and hey who doesn't want that Wink 
The potential divide here is whether the effect should be based on maximum HP, as per Gnarls suggestion, or current HP, as per mine. Both have their pros and cons.






Why choose - use both.  This is 5N, the agnostic's D&D.  (I'd call it catholic D&D but most would think I'm making a religious statement).


If the rolll exceeds the current hit points, but fails to exceed the maximum hit points, the target has advantage on their saving throw.  If the spell would not normally allow a saving throw - they gain a saving throw.

(Disclaimer:  I'm not sold on the idea itself.  But I'll concede it merits discussion.  If nothing else - since spells can all be different it is possible that some spells may work this way.  I even suggested a related idea as a fix for Sleep somewhere on these forums:  Roll 1 die per creature and match the lowest die to the lowest hit points, second lowest die to second lowest hit points, etc. and see which ones meet or exceed current hit points/ fall asleep). 


Carl
As I wrote in the other thread, this doesn't alter the basic probl;em -- the caster is playing the "save or suck" while the fighter plays "deplete the hp".  If the spell inflicted damage regardless of whether you beat the creature's current hp, at least all the PCs would be on the same page.

But I think lots of people would balk at that, as they did in 4e.
I don't the thresholds should be arbitary.

They should have have understandable meaning. I made a topic about the thought.

10 HP= Tough normal folk. Can survive a basic attack.

30 HP= Veterans and Experts.  Can survive a fireball.

50 Hp= Superherioc Superhuman. Can survive 5th level attack spells.

100HP= Paragon of mental and physical toughness, LOL deathh spells

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

I like tying the spell effect to the universal D&D indicator of overall PC/Mob power, the abstract Hitpoints. It makes it general enough to allow for any fluff description you like (since hitpoint loss is very abstract lending itself to any flavor text description you like).

One way to keep this mechanic, but not require PC metagaming guessing at mob hitpoint totals, is to include a new mechanic, perhaps call it "Shrug It Off". This mechanic would allow a spell to have a given effect on a mob, the maximum possible for the spell (this is for non-damage effects of course). Then the mob would choose to "actively resist" the spell, or not (it would attempt to "Shrug it off"). You could design it so they have to choose before they make their Save (if the spell allows one), or you can design it so they can choose after the Save. 

If they choose to Shrug It Off, the spell has a damage value associated with it for this, X hitpoints. This is how many hitpoints the mob loses for resisting the spell in this way. If they do choose this option, they lose the X hitpoints, and then the initial spell effect is reduced to the Shrug It Off Effect. If the spell allows a Save, then that would further reduce the Effect. 

If the loss of X hitpoints would drop the mob, then you could have the rule say that mob cannot then choose to resist it in this way, or just allow them to and then drop from the effort. 

I would see spells under this mechanic having 3 Effects (or 2 if the spell has no Save allowed). The Primary Effect is the full effect. The Secondary Effect is what you get if you Shrug It Off or if You Save. The Tertiary Effect is what you get if you Both Shrug It Off and Save. So each of the "resistances" of the mob reduces it 1 level. If they actively resist (Shrug It Off) or just passively resist (Save) each success reduces the spell effect by 1 level (Primary, Secondary, Tertiary)

This way you can balance spells in more ways, by allowing a Save, and also by imposing a low or high Shrug It Off hitpoint loss. 

You could say that a mob can only Shrug It Off if they can take actions (since it is Active Resistance) or are not surprised. So this makes Stunned, Unconscious, Surprised, mobs more vulnerable to certain spells with this mechanic.

You could for example have a spell that Puts you to Sleep/Dazes You/Slows You as the 3 tiers of effects. But make the Shrug It Off damage be low, like 5 hitpoints. This would mean most mobs would pay the 5 hitpoints to at worst be Dazed, and on a save merely be slowed. But surprised mobs would not get to Shrug It Off and so would be for sure Dazed of not Sleeping. Makes certain spells more useful if the target is taken off guard. 

Or you could make the same spell say: Sleep/Slowed/Nothing, and make the Shrug It Off damage more, say 25 hitpoints. This means mobs may be willing to skip it, since the secondary effect is not as bad. But this spell would be less useful against unaware foes. 

You could also have spells that escalate, so they have an initial weak effect, but remain for say 3 rounds. On round 1 they have their weak effect, then at the end of the target's turn, they choose to Shrug It Off, if they decline, the spell then imposes the next effect, if after their next turn they decline to Shrug It Off, it has its full effect. Then it would allow a Save after that to remove it (or allow another Shrug it Off to automatically end it). So the mob could pay the Shrug It Off value each time and prevent the escalation of the spell, they would suffer its mild effect for 3 rounds having lose the Shrug It Off damage 2 times and then get a Save to get rid of it after that. So it allows them mob to choose. 

Say you have Acid Arrow: X initial acid damage, Shrug It Off damage = 15 hitpoints each time, and then the Effect = disadvantage on all attacks/disadvantage on all checks and grant foes advantage/stunned. So the acid continues to "burn" for 3 rounds, and the mob can keep the effect to disadvantage on attacks for all 3 of those rounds if it suffers the 15 damage each of rounds 2 and 3. Perhaps you could have the spell allow a Save after each round as well (after the spell effect escalates), if the mob saves, the effect is reduced by 1 level, and if already at the initial level it ends. This would mean a mob who Shrugs It Off at the end of their turn on round 1 if they make their Save also ends the effect. If they ignore the Shrug then if they Save they keep the effect at the initial level. 

This allows for a lot of combinations and keeps the hitpoints connected to spell effects in some way. It makes the loss of hitpoints flavored as an active resistance which takes something out of you to resist it in this way. This would allow mobs to perhaps have a new ability, say if they have magic resistances or whatever, they lose only half the Shrug damage when they do that. 

Just a skeleton of an idea anyway.

Larry
The germ of the idea is similar to something I suggested in 4E ( we used it from time to time). 


If a creature is subject to an effect such as dazed it can spend a healing surge to get a new saving throw versus the effect.

In your case you would be using actual dmage rather than the healing surge - and you are allowing it when the spell is cast rather than as a way to break the spell.


But it otherwise is simiilar - spending physical (or not so physical depending upon your interpretation of hit points) to resist the power of the magic.


I don't hate it - I'm just not sure it fits every spell.


But, again, nothing says every spell has to use the same mechanic.  Maybe this is the answer for some spells, maybe a level-based bonus to the save is the answer for others.  Maybe "save ends - with increasing severity for each failed save" is the answer for others.  And maybe hit point caps are the answer for some.


I think the fallacy is to assume that they need a single unifying mechanism to work for each spell.  I'd rather they looked at each spell and asked:  Whom should this affect and how - looking both at mechanics and the subjective issue of player acceptance - can we filter those we want it to affect away from those whom we don't.


Carl
I like the idea, but I think you will end up rolling a fistful of die quite often and that can really slow things down. What if we something based on Con Score and Hit Die and maybe level.

This is just an idea but maybe something like level X spell rolls a d20+10+Spell Level and if that is greater than the enemy's Con Score + HD (and/or level) then it has full effect. Then diminished effect for under that. Change the numbers around to fit but you get the idea of the system.
As I wrote in the other thread, this doesn't alter the basic probl;em -- the caster is playing the "save or suck" while the fighter plays "deplete the hp".  If the spell inflicted damage regardless of whether you beat the creature's current hp, at least all the PCs would be on the same page.

But I think lots of people would balk at that, as they did in 4e.



If you put a lesser effect on the save or die effects, the PCs are all on the same page.

If sleep gives a few penalties, hold person immobilizes and slay living deals damage if you don't beat the hit point threshold, all your PCs are on the same page.

If you reduce the Hit Point threshold so that you can affect "normal" critters of your level +2/3, then you have a small chance of affecting elites of your level but the chances are reduces drastically. For instance, if hold person only deals 5d6 "virtual damage", you affect most critters of your level with a 65% chance (is the accuracy 65%, I didn't check), and against an elite level 3, your opponent needs to both fail a save and you need to roll over 25 on 5d6. That's a very small chance. Usually, save or die spells are not worth the gamble*, but if there's a lesser effect, giving it a try is fun. When it works, great story, if it fails, you're still contributing to the fight in a lesser way.

You probably can adjust the "virtual damage" to affect elites of your level with a "reasonable" 40% chance. This would drop fairly rapidely as the monsters increase in level which is exactly what you do. Seriously, if Slay Living works 65% of the time on a critter that is already going to die in one round anyways, who cares...

*This is what made AD&D a little annoying. You had all these cool spells with zero chance of success.
I like the idea, but I think you will end up rolling a fistful of die quite often and that can really slow things down. What if we something based on Con Score and Hit Die and maybe level.

This is just an idea but maybe something like level X spell rolls a d20+10+Spell Level and if that is greater than the enemy's Con Score + HD (and/or level) then it has full effect. Then diminished effect for under that. Change the numbers around to fit but you get the idea of the system.



You need more than one die if you want to have a bell curve. d20 would be too swingy. You need a whole bunch of dice for the mechanics to work (probably 5-8), otherwise, you might as well give your opponent advantage on the save.
As I wrote in the other thread, this doesn't alter the basic probl;em -- the caster is playing the "save or suck" while the fighter plays "deplete the hp".  If the spell inflicted damage regardless of whether you beat the creature's current hp, at least all the PCs would be on the same page.

But I think lots of people would balk at that, as they did in 4e.



I've always felt that save or die type spells should not be effective against level appropriate enemies.  They should be used to dominate the lower levels.  So a death spell can wipe out a room of mooks.  Hit point limits can make this kind of stuff possible so long as it's max and not current.  In fact I'd be ok with it being level instead of hit points but thats another angle.  It's fine with me though if a spell does static damage in some cases too.  I just occasionally like the possibility of taking no damage if you save. 
So maybe it could be determined by the spell itself? Maybe something like this:

- If the spell is seen as attacking the creatures will/mind/soul then it is MAX HP. (Charm, Turn undead, Fear)

- If the spell is attacking the physical body that wears down more quickly in combat it could be CURRENT HP. (Hold person, Ghoul touch, Ray of enfeeblement)

If this would be acceptable, what category would you see sleep falling into? I like to think that as the body wears down that sleep is resisted less because sleep is what the body wants to do. But I think the spell clearly effects the mind, so I am not sure. Maybe this isn't even how you think these spells work?
So maybe it could be determined by the spell itself? Maybe something like this:

- If the spell is seen as attacking the creatures will/mind/soul then it is MAX HP. (Charm, Turn undead, Fear)

- If the spell is attacking the physical body that wears down more quickly in combat it could be CURRENT HP. (Hold person, Ghoul touch, Ray of enfeeblement)

If this would be acceptable, what category would you see sleep falling into? I like to think that as the body wears down that sleep is resisted less because sleep is what the body wants to do. But I think the spell clearly effects the mind, so I am not sure. Maybe this isn't even how you think these spells work?



Sleep can be interpreted as attacking either the mind or the body.  You can be either physcially or mentally fatigued.

In your scheme it would be better interpreted as attacking the body.


Carl