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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thoughts on Hit Points

One of the things that has always thrown me off about low level characters, is the low hit points.  When you have a range of 1-10 hp for 1st level characters, not including constitution modifiers, you are basically a one hit wonder; meaning that after one hit, your character is dead.

I had always played where 1st lever characters started off with max hp at 1st level, but this still didn't save you from a lucky swing from a goblin, or even two bad swings.  I toyed with a couple of ideas on how to get some longevity out of a character, without totally messing up the dynamics of the game.  Below are a couple of the options I tried, with the pros and cons of each;

  • CON x d6-d10D, depending upon class.   Example; Fighter with CON 16, would roll 16 x d10, with the result being the characters hp, for the life of the character. The hp total would never change unless through some boon or misfortune. 
    • PRO: The benefit is that 1st level characters would have a much higher survival rate, with tons of hp.
    • CON: Players would max out their CON, in order for a larger bucket of dice for hp. 
    • CON: Players could still roll pretty poorly, and wind up with low hp.  Then again, maybe that is not a CON, but a PRO
  •  Player rolls twice for each level gained.  Players would roll 2 dice, based on class, and would take the highest roll.  
    • PRO: Player could possibly roll well
    • CONS: Player could roll poorly
  • Player just took max hp adjustment for each level gained
    • PRO: Characters would have a better chance of reaching higher levels.
    • CON: Did not feel right, and gave the fighting class an advantage, which would probably skew a player's choice of class selection. 

So, with not being totally enamored with any of the above (except maybe the CON option), I started searching the internet, to see what other players were doing.  I ran across the blog, Akratic Wizardry, which had a nice post about "House Rules".  In this post there was a version of using CON as HP, in conjunction with using your usual class HP, to represent fatigue points or bruising.

I am reprinting the majority of the mechanics below, and will remove if the owner is offended at my duplication of their work.
  • Character's class hp's represent "superficial damage" (exhaustion, bruising, scraping, ..)
  • Character's CON represents lethal damage to their person
    • All lost class hp are regained by sleeping, without interruption, for 8 full hours
    • Resting, or sleeping, for less than 8 hours, only enables characters to regain 1 hp, per full hour.
  • Cure Wounds spells, and potions of Healing, do not heal class hp, but only heal lost points of CON.         
  •  Once a character's hp have been reduced to 0, any further damage is taken off the CON score.
    • This damage represents "serious" damage
    • Every time damage is taken to CON, a save VS. Death is required, or the character falls unconscious.  
    • An unconscious character, regains consciousness after 8 hours of rest.
    • Additionally, any character which has taken damage to CON, suffers a -2 penalty to all actions (attack rolls, savings throws, etc..)
  •  A character whose CON is reduced to 0, or lower, is dead
  •  A character cannot regain class hp, until he has regained all lost CON.
    • Characters regain 1 CON, for every two days of complete bed rest. 
    • The care of a Doctor, or Healer can improve the rate to 1 CON, per day of complete rest.
  • Magic healing spells may only restore hp, not CON (GM's may change this to sui their tastes)
I really like these rules, as it allows characters a great bit of survivability, whether at low, or higher levels.  I do not think this unbalances the game, or changes any of the dynamics.  There is also the element of realism for lower level characters, and the Heroic element for higher level.  Of course, we still have to play a few games with it, so see how it works.   I also need to see how it works out with my "You've been poisoned - save, or die" mod I am working on.

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