Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hit Points, again

Ya so I still haven't committed rule to paper about the whole starting HP thing.  I am even less certain about the whole taking stat damage when you have no agency.  I like the ideas but I see them taking the game away from a d20 realm and into other directions.  I mean hit point in D20 are pretty flexible and can take a lot of abuse - point being that you can play around with player hit point progression wildly and still recognize the system (although as D&D went along it did become noticeable that something was happening here.)  Still I think having HP bypassed so easily could be easily abused or misused.

I did have a thought this morning on the HP topic from another angle.  What if all 'damage was stat damage?Spell casters in Beacon use HP to cast spells, perhaps all character types should be given the choice to use HP to avoid taking stat damage when they get hit.  This wouldn't really change things because most players would choose to take the HP loss over the stat damage so it would work mostly the same way.  It wouldn't be likely that a player would choose their character take stat damage over losing HP because stat damage is so hard to regain.   It wouldn't change healing magic which remains for restoring HP spent on damage avoidance (and not spells) - but it would align the two experiences of magic use and damage avoidance and clarify how HP work in Beacon - as a pool of fatigue/luck/skill/will - and it would be interesting if/when someone actually decided to choose to take a hit on their stats in order to stay conscious and achieve a task.

I hope I can get in some play-testing again soon because I think these ideas really need to be worked through in the field and run by some players instead of just percolating on the blog.


  1. I recently picked up a copy of Hackmaster (mostly out of long-held curiosity more than anything) and discovered as "crunchy" as it is (e.g. a rule for knock-back and being rendered unconscious from a serious blow), the rules for HP were pretty commonsensical: racial base (e.g. dwarf get 10, elves get 5, halflings get 5, and humans get 10) + CON score (the ability score, not a bonus) + class die (e.g. clerics 1d8, fighter 1d10, mage 1d4, & thieves 1d6). So my 1st level human thief (CON 16) has 30HPs, a stout fellow with obvious background skills in scrapping.

    I like a house rule over and above the "usual"...something like: "HPs" are akin to "endurance" and Constitution is more like "body points"; thus, when you get kicked down to 0 HPs, you're unconscious and any damage after that comes off CON. So something like "cure light wounds" would restore HP but not CON, which would take a "cure serious wounds" or the like (or maybe twice as much healing potion, etc.)

    For other bits, why not use the stat/prime requisite for each class as a kind of "class ability"? Mages have "magic points" equal to INT; fighters have a "second wind" sort of thing equal to STR; thieves have a "luck pool" equal to DEX (borrowed from something similar in Hackmaster); clerics have "spiritual points" equal to WIS. Use up the pool, take a negative modifier in some other, related, skill set.

    As much as I have come to enjoy simplicity as a grognard, playing with the fiddly bits and trying out new stuff definitely has an appeal as well.

    Drop me a line if you need another body for some playtesting. I've been chomping at the bit since our campaign was put on hold.

    1. And if I would learn to re-read related posts first, I might also learn not to repeat myself.

  2. hehe. i'm loath to stray too much from d20 as per my design philosophy for Beacon. next game i do might be more flexible in that respect. i dont think the things im considering are changes as much as a spin on the mechanic.

    and if i do run a g+ session i'll be sure to send you an invite.

  3. Hit points have always been a tricky thing. Are they wounds, or fatigue or luck? Or some combination of the three? What does it mean to loose hit points? What is being healed when a cleric casts his HP restorative type spell? In Beacon HP seem to represent energy - energy to stay in a fight, to cast a spell, etc and they come back relatively quickly, unlike stat damage. So to me definitely a Fatigue/Will type thing. So a rule that allows me to take damage directly to my stat, rather than my HP in order to conserve my ability to stay in the fight, makes sense. And it makes an interesting tactical option. It also raises some interesting possibilites, since it's now a resource that can be "spent" (I guess it kinda already was with spell casters). So in addition to "spending HP" to keep from being wounded, could fighter types spend a few hit points to increase their combat prowess (maybe a temporary bonus to hit or damage?), or stealthy types increase their ability to stay hidden? Or even spend a few on a skill role?

    I know you don't want to stray to far from the D&D roots, but it's an interesting option for the direction you're headed in. In any case, I'd like to give the new rules a whirl.

    1. That's not a bad idea at all actually and in a d20 system it might fit well as a simple replacement for 'feats' or 'powers'. I don't know if I want the added complexity of specific feats however. It would have to be very simple like using HP to get an extra die roll or something. It would have to be carefully tested as well because other abilities go up with level so this would compound that. I do like the idea better than tacking on somehting like bennies or karma points however - you are in effect spending your 'effort'. Does the system need it or does it add real value I guess is the question.