Remaking D&D – Hit Points

Good evening (or whatever time of day it is where you are). I’m still less sick than yesterday which is a relief. Now here’s another blog post. We’ll see how big it gets.

Hit points is one of these Dungeons & Dragon things that is equally widespread and silly. In its current for it’s basically “plot armor” that harmlessly soaks up all damage and allows you to survive stupid things. It’s said to represent stamina, skill, luck and other factors, to escape the brunt of the impact, but why does things like poison or falling damage get soaked just the same. An average level 10 Barbarian can survive a fall of straight down 90 meters (300 ft) landing flat on his face, and stand up without a scratch.It will almost deplete his hit points, but he will be totally fine. At impact, his speed would theoretically be about 40 m/s (~135 fps) in normal conditions. That’s like being hit by a truck going in 140 km/h. And that should be both more avoidable and survivable. And the thing is, the next second a passing Fighter might throw a leaf at him (an improvised weapon, doing… 1d4 + ability score modifier damage, so 5.5) and knocking him out outright. (This was calculated based on average rolled HP for the Barbarian with an 18 CON, and the passing by Fighter having a 16 STR. Not unreasonable probably.) And if the Barbarian is raging he will take half damage from all this, probably. How to you take a fall better when you are very upset?

Apart from the fact that “an object that bears no resemblance to a weapon” deals as much damage as a combat dagger, it’s a very, very simplified, or just plain stupid, system with hit points. Oh, and did I mention a high level Barbarian in the rules as written can literally swim in lava? Fun! In this rework I’ll try to fix some points of that while keeping the “it’s kind of stamina that avoids serious harm”-bit. This is also something I did, though maybe not so well, in my super-houseruled D&D 5e campaign.

New Hit Points… Grit! (Or Something)

Grit is what I have called it before. One could call it Stress Points, which I think Douglas Cole is doing in his Heretical D&D project (go check it out!), but anything works. This is kind of hit points, but with some additions. Here’s how I’d go at the moment in this “D&D-that-isn’t-even-D&D-anymore”:

  • Classes gain 3 to 5 Grit per level, plus their Constitution modifier (up to +5).
  • Some things, like a poison or fall deals x damage times the level of the target.
    • This means only class and Constitution soak that damage.
    • Essentially it’s a percentage of your maximum HP, but easy to calculate.
  • There’s a evasion threshold of say… (class hp -2) * level + 5.
    • Any damage that exceeds that threshold would cause real wounding damage.
  • Grit recovers quickly, maybe 25% or 50% on a quick breather.
    • Maximum grit could be reduced based on wounding, perhaps?
    • Maybe maximum wounds is equal to Constitution, and changes your modifier?
  • Wounds recover slowly, and may have additional penalties.

I’ll count on these things a bit probably, and change them around, but you get the idea. Make hit points less silly but still usable. This needs some more thinking but it’s a basic thought. Nothing new under the sky probably, but whatever. Old thoughts can be useful too, sometimes. Hopefully it’s still useful. More on this another time.

There was no session tonight. I was still sick and people seemed confused on whether anything was decided or not, but whatever. Hopefully there will be one this weekend, or maybe next week. We’ll see.

I’m done for now. ‘Til next time.

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