Sunday, November 18, 2018

The HP nomenclature problem

Embedded in this post is a link to my four-page RPG, Something Something 2d6. You can read it on google docs if you can't see it here.

While play-testing it via ye olde Tomb of Horrors, we came up against one of those traditional RPG debates: what are HP? To a degree, the problem with pinning them down is probably due to their name. Hit Points makes it sound like you get hit. And you do, when someone rolls a to-hit roll against you. The thing is, in SS2D6, we have clerics of a different color, and they don't heal HP. They mend flesh and bones. So there was a disconnect when someone was like, "I'm not hurt, I just want to be healed."

One of the players said, "Think of them as Plot Armor points". And thus, I switched to PA instead of HP. We'll see how it goes. I would love to call HP Luck Points, but Luck is a stat (ability score) in our game.

Anyways, we are having some good fun, so checking out SSD6 might give you some useful ideas. I like the free-form magic system and all kinds of other things about it, including the crits, the non-spell-casting clerics, and the bonus dice each class gets. Also, check out the comment about how we are trying out leveling everyone else when one of their companions dies.

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Reverance Pavane said...

In tabletop wargaming, such as Chainmail how many "hits" you did to your opponent's units were how many figures you removed from the table. They might not have been killed, they could just be wounded or even dazed, or have run away ahead of the general rout. They are just no longer combat effective.

Some fantasy figures could take more than one "hit" in a turn to eliminate from the tabletop (I'll use "kill" hereon for this concept). So a Hero needed four hits in a single turn to be killed. A Werewolf needed 3 hits in a turn, unless the opponent was armed with a silver of magic weapon, in which case it only required one hit (I still love this approach).

When Dave was converting _Chainmail_ into OD&D he made 1 "hit" equal to 1d6 "hit points." So a hero had 4d6 hit points and the sword the hero wielded did 1d6 hit points of damage. Although sadly it was no longer necessary for the damage to be done in a single turn for the target to be eliminated. Later, in Greyhawk Gygax changed the definition of a hit by using different dice, both for weapon damage and for the number of hits it took to eliminate the character.

Since a "hit" represented a tabletop wargaming kill, it meant that an opponent wearing armour was harder to hit/kill, which is why armour affected your ability to hit/kill the opponent.

Like "campaign," the term "hit" makes sense to those coming to the game from a wargaming background. Less so, if you don't have that experience.

[Personally I prefer the interpretation that a hit point represents the additional effort on the part of the character required to otherwise block, parry, or dodge an attack that would otherwise have struck you. Basically you skill at melee defence. If you run out of hit points, then that parry or block was just a tad off and you were struck. What's more important is that the injury resolution is different from your hit point resolution. It doesn't matter if you just failed to dodge the attack, it still hits with full force. In many ways it represents exhaustion, and players are always able to reroll their hit points when resting (the minimum that can be rolled on each die depends on the quality of the rest).]

Yochai Gal said...

Into The Odd/Electric Bastionland calls them Hit Protection; they are basically your ability to _avoid_ damage; once you run out, damage subtracts from STR and you have to save for critical damage.

To restore HP, you only need a moment to take a breath and a swig of water.

Spwack said...

"Statesmanship, Lucre, Duels, Crazy Stunts, Savoir Faire, Battles, Famed Exploits, Dungeon Phenomena Hacking, God-killing, World Saving."

What a list! I can easily see how this could be applied to any number of other settings, nice stuff.