Get rid of HP?

Get rid of HP. Physical attacks damage your STR DEX or CON (defender choice), mental attacks damage your INT or WIS. Energy draining could affect STR, numbing and weakness affect STR and DEX, etc. If an average PC has a stat of 9, and starting PCs have HP of d4 to d10 (2.5 to 5.5 average) then halving all damage in the system gives you an appropriate conversion. (EDIT: Brendan pointed out my math was wrong. To have 1d6 damage weapons, you need stats in the range of 1-6. See first couple comments below. I would not suggest using 3d6 damage weapons and 3d6 stats.)

What about leveling up? Your hero should get tougher, right? Don’t raise stats, just reduce damage. Every character level lets you ignore the first point of damage per round, from any source. So a 5th level PC gets into a fight with one goober who has a 1d3 damage sword. Goober swings the sword, he can’t ever damage this PC. But get six goobers together, now you have the potential for up to 18 damage in the round, so this PC might take some hits. In reality the goobers won’t all hit and won’t all get good damage, so this fight is still probably safe. Get a 5 HD monster in there: if he deals say 1d8 damage it’s possible he can beat up this PC. If he blocked 5 points from goobers with swords and then got blasted with an INT attack, he would have no defense left this round against it.

Fireball causes 1d6 per two caster levels, so a 5th level M-U casts a 2d6 Fireball, which is going to do 7 damage on average. That hurts the 5th level PC since he can only absorb the first 5 damage based on level.

Also, poison gets delivered on a hit regardless of whether it gets past the per-round damage reduction. So weak poisonous monsters are dangerous at any level!

Let’s give a 50% chance to hit, or 11+ on d20. Armor gives -1 to hit per AC.
Fighters get +1 to hit per level, double damage on natural 20 and can wear armor.
M-Us get +1 to hit per two levels and spellcasting (can’t wear armor and also cast).

I don’t see a need for saving throws. A Charm spell causes WIS damage so multiple Charms will eventually knock down a victim’s defenses. But high-level characters will be resistant to low-level charms unless bombarded by multiple casters simultaneously. A death spell affects CON, petrification affects DEX, etc. Once you hit zero you get the incapacitation effect of dying or being turned to stone. Sleep spell affects DEX and INT but with low damage to each (which makes high level creatures resist it well).

The defender management of his incoming damage in cases where he can choose (such as a blow from a weapon affecting either his STR or DEX or CON) gives him some interesting choices to make even when he’s passively getting whomped. Removing saves streamlines the system by removing an entire rule and related spells / magic items.

What to do about monsters? We want to use as much monster material as possible with little conversion. Assuming monsters have INT listed, give them equal WIS. CHA is 9 (to their own species) unless the creature is described as especially suave (Rakshasa) or crude (Goblin). CON should be 9 unless the creature’s STR is given, in which case it should equal STR. DEX should be 9 unless the creature is listed as being especially fast or slow. It might be necessary to just list out the 6 stats for every monster. I’m sure this would take about two hours for the 1st ed. MM1 or you could just copy what’s in the d20 SRD and fill in the gaps.

Natural healing should occur at 1 point to all stats per day. If this seems too quick, try 1 point to one stat per day. Remember 1 stat point about equals 2 HP. Because of this, magical healing should apply to stats of the wounded one’s choice if he drinks a potion, or of the caster’s choice if it’s a spell, and probably a Cure Light Wounds equivalent should heal 1d3 or 1d4.

To keep track of the level-based damage resistance, players should keep a die out with the DR remanining face-up, or else note it on scratch paper. Generally a round will be short enough that everyone will remember if he got hit or not, and tracking the number is neccessary only if you got hit for less than your DR. If you didn’t get hit, no need to write it down, and if you got hit for your full DR then you know you’re vulnerable.

Here’s the problem: we traded away HP and negative HP and death and dismemberment and saving throw rules, and in return now we track damage to all 6 stats (though mostly it’ll be the first 3 physical ones). There’s a death spiral since as you lose DEX you lose AC, as you lose STR you lose attack and damage. Tracking these moving stats will be a pain in the butt, especially for high level PCs with lots of modifiers.

And the big one, we need to rewrite spells, magic items, and monsters (which is about 3/4 of the game).

I don’t think it’s worth it. But I’m throwing this out here because maybe someone will use it to make something better.

8 Responses to “Get rid of HP?”

  1. Brendan Says:

    halving all damage in the system gives you an appropriate conversion

    Not sure how this works; can you elaborate?

    Seems to me like you are trading away the traditional d6 (average) HP per level for the 3d6 of an attribute. Presumably all damage numbers would need to approximately tripple to compensate? That is, if you wanted a game that could be similarly lethal at the beginning.

    There’s a death spiral since as you lose DEX you lose AC, as you lose STR you lose attack and damage. Tracking these moving stats will be a pain in the butt, especially for high level PCs with lots of modifiers.

    One could use ability score modifiers like OD&D that don’t do much (the scores are more about resisting damage anyways in your proposed system). Or use standard Moldvay or AD&D heavy modifiers but just not adjust them as the ability score takes damage (death spirals kind of suck anyways).

    I don’t like getting rid of saving throws; they serve a different purpose than HP in D&D. Saves are the thing that keep HP from being a total get out of jail free card. Even a high level character can fail a save versus poison, for example. The system as you have it here, the ability scores are an impermeable buffer that can only be overcome by tremendous force and/or numbers.

  2. 1d30 Says:

    Halving damage: yep, got that one wrong. Here is my thinking: if a PC at the start normally has d6 HP, and his average stat will be 9, and there I screwed up. I should have said average starting HP would otherwise be 3.5, and average stat is 9, so you should have higher damage rolls. Actually, it would be better to set stats at 1-6 instead (Start at stat of 3. Roll 1d6: on a 1 or 6 it goes up or down by 1. If you rolled a 1 or 6, roll again. If you roll two 1s in a row your stat is 1 instead. If you rolled two 6s in a row, your stat is 6 instead) and then attacks all deal 1d6 damage.

    This is one I’ll edit in the post.

    Death spirals: yeah they suck and are hard to track, which is why I mentioned it as a detriment.

    Saves: I see what you’re saying, I just don’t see why saves are needed in this case. You still have high-level characters vulnerable to stuff if it rolls high for damage. So if your PC gets hit by poison and the poison damage roll is pretty high, it’s like getting hit by poison and failing your save. I imagine poison causing a single large damage die, like a d6 for deadly poison up to maybe d12 for some of the magical monster poisons. The big risk is from multiple hits, like a snake biting you a half dozen times.

    Again, addressing your points but not exactly defending the system. I decided I didn’t especially like it after I wrote it.

  3. Brendan Says:

    Still an interesting read.

    4E went that way (sort of) by making more things cause damage and it ends up feeling qualitatively different even if the math is similar.

    Re: stat generation: 3d6 take the middle value has the same properties (I think).

  4. 1d30 Says:

    The slow shift method I gave gives a 24 in 36 chance of a stat of 3, 5 in 36 of a 2, 5 in 36 of a 4, 1 in 36 of 1, 1 in 36 of 6.

    3d6 take middle would, for example, offer a 1 in 216 chance of three 6s, but you could still get a 6 if you rolled 5-6-6 or X-6-6 for that matter. You could not get a 6 with 5-5-6 though. So the chance of getting a 6 is six times 1 in 216, or 1 in 36. Likewise with the chance of getting a 1. So initially it looks good, and faster and more intuitive too. I don’t know what the middle looks like without throwing Excel at it (never took statistics so I don’t know the right way to figure it out).

  5. Mujadaddy Says:

    Stat damage in lieu of HP: not bad at all. Death spiral is a problem, but that could be managed a few different ways:
    * No mechanical penalties during the same combat, only afterward. (“You’re really sore after that fight!”)
    * No bonus, no penalties: track the Stat, but stop removing mods once the mod hits zero (Simple, but penalizes those with high Stats more — but they’re doubling up on survivability with high Stats anyway)
    * Bonus and penalties: keep full Stat bonuses, but once a Stat is (3 or less? Zero?), opponents get bonuses to hit. (Institutional Death Spiral with Full Benefits)
    * No mechanical penalties at all: Stats are simply more ‘HP’ (No Spiral, but almost no flavor, either)

    Character level as per-round Damage Reduction: this, though, is pure gold. It solves so many problems, while keeping so much flavor of what a “level” is for… I actually am going to think about this on its own: that is, without the Stats-as-HP clouding the beauty of the idea. Back soon!

  6. 1d30 Says:

    @Mujadaddy: I like #3, especially with 3E’s linking 2 stat points to a +1 related bonus. It would be close enough to say 2 STR damage = -1 to melee hit and damage. If you wanted to give heavier and less frequent threshholds, you could do -2 per 4 full damage. That way the stats have their calculated impact on the character sheet, but the “on the fly” penalty for stat damage is way easier to figure out. And with -2 per 4 damage you wouldn’t see immediate penalties.

    DR for character level kind of stems from 0E Chainmail handling of “Hero” units: one hit kills a normal man, but it takes 4 hits in a single turn for a Hero to die (8 hits in a turn for a Superhero). Insufficient hits are cleared at the end of the round. It’s different from DR as envisioned in 3E, actually a little like the regenerating health in modern FPSs.

  7. Mujadaddy Says:

    “Insufficient hits are cleared at the end of the round.”

    Great googlymoogly, that is over-powered, at least as related to damage and healing in the subsequent games. 😮

    I think, though, your version of Level-as-per-round-DR in straight A/D&D would rock; it gives 1st-Level players a LOT of extra hit points in the long run, letting them run through with fewer in-game breaks. It still has the baked-in deadliness, it’s just that you actually have to be very unlucky to get 1-shotted as opposed to it being somewhat of a coin flip.

    You could even go full cinematic and let ’em have that DR per opponent, letting them wade through mooks… if that floated your boat 🙂

  8. Mujadaddy Says:

    1st level character 6 HP vs Orc, 1d6 dmg:
    *****1, no dmg
    *****2, 1 dmg
    *****3, 2 dmg
    *****4, 3 dmg
    *****5, 4 dmg
    *****6, 5 dmg
    Death at 4+ twice, as opposed to 3+ twice or 6 once.

    3rd level 14HP vs Orc 1d6
    *****1-3, no dmg
    *****4, 1 dmg
    *****5, 2 dmg
    *****6, 3 dmg
    Fastest Death is five sixes in a row. Throw more Orc at the problem:
    3rd level 14HP vs 2 Orcs 2d6
    *****2-3, no dmg [3/31]
    *****4, 1 dmg [3/31]
    *****5, 2 dmg [4/31]
    *****6, 3 dmg [5/31]
    *****7, 4 dmg [6/31]
    *****8, 5 dmg [5/31]
    *****9+, 6 dmg [4/31]
    *****10, 7 dmg [3/31]
    *****11, 8 dmg [2/31]
    *****12, 9 dmg [1/31]
    Death after 2 rounds on 10+ (12/62), 3 rounds on 8+(45/93)

    6th Level 24HP, 2 Orcs 2d6
    *****2-6, no dmg [15/31]
    *****7, 1 dmg [6/31]
    *****8, 2 dmg [5/31]
    *****9, 3 dmg [4/31]
    *****10, 4 dmg [3/31]
    *****11, 5 dmg [2/31]
    *****12, 6 dmg [1/31]
    Not enough Orc:
    6th Level 24HP, 3 Orcs 3d6
    *****3-6, no dmg [20/216]
    *****7, 1 dmg [15/216]
    *****8, 2 dmg [21/216]
    *****9, 3 dmg [25/216]
    *****10, 4 dmg [27/216]
    *****11, 5 dmg [27/216]
    *****12, 6 dmg [25/216]
    *****13, 7 dmg [21/216]
    *****14, 8 dmg [15/216]
    *****15, 9 dmg [10/216]
    *****16, 10 dmg [6/216]
    *****17, 11 dmg [3/216]
    *****18, 12 dmg [1/216]
    Death after 2 rounds only on double 18; 3 rounds on 14+; 4 rounds on 12+. In effect, I’m seeing basically one extra round of survivability, which doesn’t seem over the top to me.

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