Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hit Points

Just had an interesting thought strike me. It's occurred to me in the past that certain injuries, broken bones, snapped tendons, organ failure and so on isn't particularly reflected by the hit point structure--though because I don't see any system being an improvement on the HP idea, I haven't seen a simple, easy way of handling those injuries. Thus, they are usually "overlooked" while gaming.

Part of the trouble is that healing spells ought to be able to "fix" those things as easily as simple wounds. If a character heals at 1 hp per day normally, then the first level spell, cure light wounds, serves to heal anything which might be conceivably healed normally in six days.

Of course, a broken ulna (bone in your arm) takes twelve weeks to heal, but who's counting, right?

What if we take the very simple approach of saying that certain injuries (how they occur is your problem) require 10x as much healing to repair? For example, suppose your 2nd level ranger with 22 hit points sprains his wrist. And let's suppose we call those points which heal at 10% normal speed as "hard points." To give some measure to the sprain, let's say a sprain is 1d4 hard points...we'll roll the dice and assess the damage as "3".

Normally, to heal 5 hit points, it would require 5 days of rest or a simple healing spell. But in this case, 3 hard points require 30 days of rest. The ranger is temporarily at 19 hp maximum, adding 1 hp more to his maximum each time that 10 equivalent hit points are cured. On average, that would be six days of rest and cure light wounds spells to bring him back to normal.

Not much of a hassle for a sprained wrist, but what about a broken leg? Or gall stones? (what, you've never given your player gall stones?). It would be hard for a 2nd level player group to get 200 healing points together.

The rule has, I think, interesting possibilities.


KenHR said...

It's an interesting thought, but for D&D, you'd have to de-couple physical hit points from the luck/divine favor/badassedness hit points. Something along the lines of how RuneQuest hit points work, maybe.

RoleMaster used specific injuries on the critical tables (no gall stones, but I'm sure you could find a rule for them if you search the Companions...). The healing system was built around the specific injury concept, from bed rest to spells to magical herbs. It worked well in practice, though it seems an intimidating mess on paper.

Anonymous said...

Sounds elegant!

But which heals each day? Hitpoints or hard damage? Random?

Also I think if you get a broken leg, well then your not supposed to be so bad ass. Though your either more lucky or badass as a player, if you can keep your dude alive long enough to heal it off.

Oh, and I've never given gallstones to a player. Or a character! >:)

Alexis said...

You'd have to think of maximum hit points as a retreating horizon. You would first heal those hit points for the "healthy" part of your body, and only after that could you heal the hard points.

Let's say you had 22 hp maximum, and 3 hard points damage, and that your present hit points are 17. You drink a healing potion that gives you ten hit points: the first two would heal you up to 19, and the next eight would heal you up to 19 point 8.

If you took ANY damage, you'd suffer from the damage plus any and all partial hit points would be lost (arguing that being partly broken, the body suffers). So if I punched you after you drank the potion for 1 hp damage, you'd be back down to 18 hp, still with three hard points to be healed. Nasty.

But, if you had been at 20.2 hp when I punched you, you'd be down to 19, with only two hard points left to heal.

Get it?

Anonymous said...

Well, I got it before and just wanted to know a detail. I'm basically asking at the very meta level of which you had decided would heal first (and you told me, ty :) )

But I'd say, if you get hit you lose all partial hitpoints?

Okay, I'll speak at a meta level - this wouldn't lead to much uncertainty. During adventures, the characters will always take a slap here or there (would you agree?). Thus no healing will happen while on adventure. And if they get to a tavern, they will just lie in bed till they get a hard point back.

I'd think that if your at 1 to 5 partial hitpoints, you lose them all on taking damage. But from 6 to 9 partial, you keep it. That way they might be able to squeeze in healing some hard points while on an adventure, rather than it being pretty much certain it wont happen.

Not arguing it has to be that way, but I like the extra uncertainty in the idea.

Chgowiz said...

I like the idea of "bad injuries" and I think there's a way to make it simple, based on the abstract level of D&D combat. Instead of tying it to the "loss" of HP, tie "bad injuries" to fumbles/criticals.

If a PC fumbles, if the bad guy hits them same round, they suffer some sort of bad injury (along with normal d6 damage) with effects to be ruled by the DM. If the bad guy scores a critical on them, same deal - bad injury along with d6 damage.

It would introduce the possibility of such injuries, but not force some sort of double bookeeping or confusion about HP levels.

Then again, I'm lazy and don't like a lot of rules. :)

Jonathan said...

I love the idea - but personally, I would try to keep it simple, instead of trying to add a new mechanic to the game. For example - you could simply use something like Temporary Consitution damage as a measure of hard points: broken arms, twisted ankles, partially crushed skulls. For example... any attack that _singly_ does more than the value of your Constitution + your level would do the excess damage as constitution damage. For instance, you're a 9th level wizard and have a Con of 14 and you get hit with an angry giant's boulder for 27 points of damage - that would be 23 points of hit point damage plus 4 points of temporary constitution damage. I dunno.. maybe such a system would create similar "added mechanics" problems. Just my 2¢

Anywho.. nice blog! just found you.