D&D "fainting buffer"

edited April 2 in Make Stuff!

This is something I proposed to my group today but I’m not sure myself what to think. I want to hear from them.

Currently we have this: Current rules for Lingering Injuries

And the proposal is to go to this:

Proposed rules for Lingering Injuries

A while ago I talked to @Paul_T about how with our rules there is no chance of playing out the trope of “your leg is chopped off but you’re still awake”. You faint instantly if you get seriously hurt. I think there is a lot of good to that (veiling the gore of combat) but a way around it could be to introduce sort of a “fainting buffer”; a zone of HP where you are hit but not down.

I started out sort of inspired by PP/HP, or HP/FP, or Wounds/Vitality (same thing different names) but ended up with something more akin to 4E’s “bloodied” idea, except at 3 HP instead of at half HP.

The intent is for it to happen rarely and matter rarely.

I also proposed some alternative numbers instead of 3:

  • Con bonus
  • Max HD
  • Current HD

I like 3 the best though.

I’m not sure what I think. Split it out to some things happening at 3, some at 0, or keep the status quo of everything happening at zero.

This is gonna be something the group decides but I thought I’d report my current thinking & my process here in case people were curious.

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Comments

  • I am personally very much for getting away from the strict death dichotomy in D&D. Making it possible to become a combat casualty without dying is already a great improvement (wasn't possible in original '74 rules), but as you say, there's all sorts of distinction that could be made.

    I like a static limit at 3, too. There are disadvantages to it, but overall it's probably best for your situation. Unless...

    Have you considered looking at the nature of the attack instead of the defender's state for determining this stuff? Everything you have happening at 3 HP could instead happen e.g. when a '1' is rolled on a damage die. Any damage die, possibly multiple times per attack if there are multiple damage dice. Could be interesting.
  • That'd make 1d4 damage more dangerous than 1d12 damage so I'm not sure makes sense but I did consider it happening on a crit (i.e. a 20 on the hobos attack roll vs the pretties, or a 1 on the hobos defense roll from the pretties) but I didn't go with it for a few reasons

    1. It seemed like it'd happen too often. Making it a hard sell for the group ("Hey, do you want to get your legs chopped off even oftener?")
    2. It seemed like it'd be only the result of chance. Bringing an entity down to low HP is the result of skill (sometimes player skill, sometimes character skill) whereas any commoner waving around a frying pan has just as high a chance of a crit. Although this might be awesome! Fighters do have more attacks so they would have a higher chance of it happening.
    3. I do like the "HP is a death clock" mechanic of D&D and I do like how crits currently mean a sudden, unexpected and unpredictable jump forward on that clock but don't have semantics beyond that.

    The lingering injuries 1d20 table has three serious entries (1 lose an eye, 2 lose an hand or an arm, 3 lose a foot or leg) and seventeen kinda weak entries. But currently our party has a one-armed dwarve and a one-legged gnome. We had another one-armed character and one one-eyed character but they both died recently.

    That point 2 above both a pro and a con I guess and not as strong of an argument as the other two points.

    I guess I'm overly attached to how we're already doing it and don't want to increase or decrease the current rate of lingering injuries too much. Just want to have a slight chance of managing to stay awake, of being able to kill your foe and then drag yourself away from the fight.
  • Why don't you just do what a number of campaign skirmish minis games do?
    0 HP ( or equivalent) is Out of Action/ Hors du Combat, and you just roll on a chart after the battle to see what actually happened?
  • @komradebob, that is similar to what we are currently doing, yeah. I like how it veils the outcome a bit, off screens it.

    The new idea is to add a small chance of being wounded w/o fainting / going OoA
  • Hi @2097 , have you considered something like consequences in FATE? Perhaps once per long rest a player can *choose* to take a debilitating injury *instead* of hit point damage. It puts a bit more agency in the players' hands.

    Personally, I dislike the 3 hit point threshold as a) its only meaningful at very low levels and b) within those levels it makes Constitution even more of a must-have stat than it already is. Instead, I would make it proportional to hit point totals (which would keep Con at its current level of balance with the other ability scores). I would probably set the threshold at 1/4 or 1/5 their hit point maximum, rounded up.

    I do like the Take An Injury Instead Of Damage option, though.

    Trent
  • edited April 2
    @Trent_W Pendragon does something like that but based on CON, (the Stafford rule). In fact, this whole thread has echos of Pendragon, sort of. Have a look.
  • edited April 2
    Personally, I dislike the 3 hit point threshold as a) its only meaningful at very low levels and b) within those levels it makes Constitution even more of a must-have stat than it already is. Instead, I would make it proportional to hit point totals (which would keep Con at its current level of balance with the other ability scores). I would probably set the threshold at 1/4 or 1/5 their hit point maximum, rounded up.
    I considered that myself, but figured that the static non-scaling limit is desirable: it makes it so that the concept of minor in-combat injury tends to fade out at higher levels, as HP and damage numbers grow larger, making a remainder HP of 1-3 points less likely. This sort of grim and gritty detail would mostly not be a concern for high level characters.

    A proportional "injury zone" is possible if you want to maintain the relevance of the concept over the level range, as you say. The aesthetic idea I get of Sandra's campaign is pretty low-profile mechanically, though, which is why a simple, static rule that doesn't require separate tracking for different characters seems good for her overall systematics. If the injury zone depended on a character's HP total, different characters would have different zones, complicating the rule.

    My own approach to this same issue has historically been to start doling out the injuries at zero HP. As my HP totals are pretty low (straight 1d6 per level for most characters, Con doesn't even exist) a system that allows characters to hang in the combat a bit even at zero HP helps make combat a bit less of a binary affair at 1st level. I also prefer to have characters occasionally get injured even when they still have hit points, as otherwise higher level characters are too immune the dangers of combat, so various ploys and critical hits and such have various chances of penetrating despite the HP aura.
    That'd make 1d4 damage more dangerous than 1d12 damage so I'm not sure makes sense but I did consider it happening on a crit (i.e. a 20 on the hobos attack roll vs the pretties, or a 1 on the hobos defense roll from the pretties) but I didn't go with it for a few reasons
    Yeah, the damage dice size effect was intentional in the suggestion: the idea that small and intimate weapons like knives are more prone to cause grotesque injuries is something some DMs have implemented to good results in their campaigns. It's a pleasant justification for using smaller weapons for some campaign styles. You'd obviously have to consider the exact consequence of the critical hit afresh if it was something that happened despite HP instead of because HP have run low.
  • edited April 2
    Just a question... shouldn't major injuries be based on damage done rather than either CON or absolute HP level? Or perhaps damage done in relation to CON or HP? Like if you take a wicked hit you're going to be wounded despite the HP aura. For example, you have 20 HP and a CON of 10. The ogre clobbers you for 10 HP--that's a major injury (based on CON).

    It's too bad D&D doesn't have a SIZ stat. A lot of cool combat results can be based on that.

    This whole discussion is making me want to play Pendragon again. In Pendragon, Knockback, Major Wound and Unconcious are all proportionally derived stats.
  • Hi @2097 , have you considered something like consequences in FATE? Perhaps once per long rest a player can *choose* to take a debilitating injury *instead* of hit point damage. It puts a bit more agency in the players' hands.
    We played Fate before we switched to D&D so we have tried it♥
    But there are a number of things w/ it that I don't like including but not limited to it being a bit author stance.
    its only meaningful at very low levels
    OK folks I have news!!

    I shouldn't have posted mechanics without "running numbers" first but now I have!

    I did a Monte Carlo sim with 2000 HP13 characters being attacked by random monsters from the SRD. Just any random monster could strike at any moment! 29% of them got to the fainting buffer (i.e. hurt before fainting), and 71% of them went past that (i.e. fainted as soon as they got hurt).

    Then I repeated the experiment with 2000 HP130 characters. They also got 29%.

    Then 2000 HP1300 characters. They also got 29%.

    Logically this makes sense of course since high HP characters eventually get whittled down to low-HP. I expected as much, what Trent wrote didn't really make sense to me.

    However, 29% is way higher than what I thought.

    I then tried one hp instead of three. Same setup: 2000 13, 2000 130, 2000 1300.
    They all got around 10%! That's more my speed!

    And flavorfully of course 1 is much more memorable and interesting than 3. You get down to your last HP, wow, could things be more evocative than that♥

    (Also follows zero one infinity rule)
  • Yeah, the damage dice size effect was intentional in the suggestion: the idea that small and intimate weapons like knives are more prone to cause grotesque injuries is something some DMs have implemented to good results in their campaigns. It's a pleasant justification for using smaller weapons for some campaign styles. You'd obviously have to consider the exact consequence of the critical hit afresh if it was something that happened despite HP instead of because HP have run low.
    I was thinking knives (1d4) = surgical, precise, kills you right away.
    axes (1d12) = might as well chop your arm off w/o killing you.
    W/ your rule it'd be the other way around unless I, as you suggest, rewrite the injuries table.
    Just a question... shouldn't major injuries be based on damage done rather than either CON or absolute HP level? Or perhaps damage done in relation to CON or HP? Like if you take a wicked hit you're going to be wounded despite the HP aura. For example, you have 20 HP and a CON of 10. The ogre clobbers you for 10 HP--that's a major injury (based on CON).
    I want to use HP as "death clock" rather than "liters of blood".
    It's too bad D&D doesn't have a SIZ stat. A lot of cool combat results can be based on that.
    While I tried to make this thread applicable for many editions of D&D, we play 5e which does have size stats. Size category, height and weight are all there.
  • I kinda feel instinctually that that number can't be right, that it happens way seldomlier than 10% that a monster or PC goes down to exactly 1 hp. I mighta done some mistake in my math like that other time I was talking about this topic w/ @Paul_T.
    Will go back and check!
  • I've been contemplating something like this:
    Shock Rolls

    Whenever you take damage, at the beginning of your next turn, make a shock roll to determine if you lose the ability to keep fighting. Roll a d12. If that number is greater than your current hit point total, you cannot continue to fight due to stress, shock, fear, or what-have-you. You are stunned until the beginning of your next turn. (Don't bother rolling if you can't mathematically fail.)
    Examples:

    Bob the Barbarian (level 1, hp=14) gets hit by an orc and takes 9 damage, dropping him to 5 hp. At the beginning of his turn, Bob rolls a d12. If he rolls 1-5, he stays conscious. If he rolls 6-12, he is stunned till his next turn.

    Rhonda the Rogue (level 4, hp=23) gets hit by an orc and takes 9 damage, then a kobold hits her with a dart for 3 more damage, leaving her with 11 hp. At the beginning of her turn, Rhonda rolls a d12. If she rolls 1-11, she stays conscious. If she rolls a 12, she is stunned till her next turn.

    Ideas

    You can make this way more of a death spiral by increasing the shock die to a d20, or less of a death spiral by reducing the shock die to a d10 or d8 or even d6.

    Different classes could have different shock dice. It could be their hit die.

    If you're really mean, make them roll at the end of any creature's turn in which they take damage, or even each time they take damage. That way lies madness.

    You can change the condition imposed by failure. Stun is pretty nasty. Make a table of things that could happen and roll; consider that your shock roll can be the lookup on the table and make the higher numbers worse than the lower numbers.

    The condition imposed by failure could be morale loss. Instead of taking a stun condition, they can choose to run away. Do this to monsters and NPCs, too. Instant morale rules.
  • Are the combatants in your simulation all rolling a d10 for damage, and continuing until one party "goes down"?
  • In fact, I'll write down an idea that occurred to me just now about how to handle critical hits in a D&D mechanical chassis. As you might know, I view D&D as this big constellation of mechanical options that you pick your way through to construct the ideal rules set for a given campaign, so I like adding stuff like this into the toolbox; it's impossible to use all the fun ideas all together, but having a variety of them can be useful over time.

    So, as I speculated upthread, a D&D combat treatment where critical hits occur when a damage die rolls a '1'. Works for falling damage or whatever. You still take that one point of damage. Injury sources that use smaller dice will effectively have a higher chance of a "critical" injury.

    This is, incidentally, how critical hits work in Tunnels & Trolls, in the context of its own uniquely different combat system. It has this delightful economy of "spite damage" that can, depending on attacker capabilities, become straight injury to the opponent, or be used to activate monster special attacks or magic items or whatever.

    Anyway, here's an unique idea of what the critical hit procedure could be for a D&D critical hit defined in this way. Remember that these critical hits can occur relatively often (a d4 dagger combatant causes one every four attacks, and a large Fireball might well cause multiple critical hits at once).

    On a critical hit, the extra consequences of the attack are checked from an extra table you roll on. Here's the roll formula:

    [character's HP after the attack] - [reroll the damage die]

    The damage die thing is pretty simple to figure out - a smaller weapon has a smaller range of potential consequences. As these critical hits can accrue at any point in the combat, the character suffering the hit might have any number of hit points left. We take that HP total and deduct a random factor based on the used weapon. So far, so good.

    (The deduction instead of adding is unfortunately needed for reasons that will become clear.)

    The table itself is where this approach becomes rather... progressive. Check out this quick sketch of what it might look like in practice:

    Result: Effect:
    -10 Explosive death - head cleaved off the body, etc.
    -9...-6 Immediately lethal strike
    -5...-1 Casualty, out of combat, might survive, might lose limbs, etc.
    0 Grievous! Roll again with a -5 to the roll
    1...5 Serious injury, might continue with a will save, etc.
    6...9 Minor injury, combat capable with penalties
    10 Grievous! Roll again with a -5 to the roll
    11...15 Major tactical debuff - blood in the eyes, fall down, drop weapon, etc.
    16...19 Minor tactical debuff - positioning disadvantage, etc.
    20 Grievous! Roll again with a -5 to the roll
    21...25 Emotional debuff - vice or virtue trigger, politics of the fight come to the fore, etc.
    That table's just a proof of concept, of course - in real implementation you'd probably want some dynamicism in there based on e.g. character level or whatever. The point, though, is that it's one table that deals with a wide range of ancillary effects that an attack could have, mainly based on the opponent's current hit points. The higher the hit points, more "heroic" the results. Not only critical injuries, but also mid-combat circumstances and conditions, depending on how many hit points the victim still has.

    Weird idea, all in all, but I could see myself using something like this in a D&D implementation that doesn't have any other systems for dealing with e.g. throwing sand in an enemy's eyes or having your shield break in the middle of combat, or other numerous things that spice up a lively combat space. For example, a minimal treatment that just did a standard "I hit it" attack process could be blown wide open with a single rules change like this, suddenly providing conceptual room and pacing for unexpected events.
  • @Paul_T

    The sim works like this.
    I input the amount of starting HP the hero has.
    That hero then takes a random attack from the SRD. That could be the breath of a dragon, 18d6 or it could be the claws of a house cat, 1 damage. Or anything else. "Chance to hit" or AC is not taken into account in the sim currently. It's a rough estimate.
    Then if the hero is still above the fainting buffer, that hero takes another random hit.
    If the hero is in the fainting buffer, the hero drags themselves out of combat alive but hurt. That happened around 29% of time when the fainting buffer was 3hp.
    If the hero goes to 0 or lower, the hero faints right away. That happened around 71% of the time when the fainting buffer was 3hp.

    I'm kinda suspicious towards these results but haven't found the bug yet, if there is one
  • @2097 If D&D5 has a SIZ stat then you could add knockback to your list of combat effects/results.
  • @Hopeless_Wanderer, that's already in there; the battle master type fighter (and many monster types) can do it while also advancing the HP "death clock", and all other characters can do it as a separate attack type. That's separate from this "seriously hurt but haven't fainted yet" fainting buffer since knockback isn't a serious injury
  • One of my players came up with a similar idea as you did, Eero; having a large faint buffer but adding current HP to the roll. not sure what i think
  • Chance of staying awake through a lingering injury: Faint buffer size

    10%: 1
    19.45%: 2
    28.4%: 3
    33.3%: 4
    42.3%: 5
    46.4%: 6
    52.95%: 7
    58.8%: 8
    61.8%: 9
    66.35%: 10
  • edited April 2
    @Paul_T Here is an example of the sim working:

    Commoner - Club
    down from 130 to 129hp
    Giant Sea Horse - Ram
    down from 129 to 123hp
    Imp - Sting (Bite in Beast Form)
    down from 123 to 118hp
    Jackal - Bite
    down from 118 to 115hp
    Winter Wolf - Bite
    down from 115 to 105hp
    Shadow - Strength Drain
    down from 105 to 96hp
    Poisonous Snake - Bite
    down from 96 to 95hp
    Archmage - Dagger
    down from 95 to 89hp
    Ancient Blue Dragon - Lightning Breath (Recharge 5-6)
    down from 89 to 2hp

    That was with a faint buffer of 10 and a starting HP of 130.

    It reads the damage expressions and rolls the dice but it doesn't do follow ups like "con save or get poisoned" etc.
  • I think the simulation is flawed in that (barring an extremely unusual game) in the actual game, the 13 hp character and the 130 hp character will not be attacked by the same spread of monsters.
  • :bawling:

    you're making me hold my head so low

    It's not enough that I scraped the entire SRD, you want me to CR sort them too?

    Not sure what kinds of spreads of monsters attacks what kinds of characters in your game.
    In my game the doors to Castle Ravenloft are open right away. You can go directly to Calamity Ganon if you want to, and can make it there. There is no differentiation of spread of monsters or curated encounters. It is a sandbox! Last session the only fight they had was vs a lone CR ¼ skeleton!

    But OK, I did CR sort them and yes, monster CR does have a significant impact. That's an interesting find and that explains a lot. It's because their attacks deal more damage thus are more course-grained when advancing the HP clock.

    But the amount of starting HP of the defender (in this case, the PC) does not have a significant impact.

    Here is with only CR 10 monsters:
    4.35%: 1
    8.2%: 2
    12.55%: 3
    17.4%: 4
    21.3%: 5
    26.1%: 6
    30.2%: 7
    30.8%: 8
    37.15%: 9
    38.6%: 10

    Here is with only CR 2 monsters
    10.5%: 1
    20.15%: 2
    28.8%: 3
    38.85%: 4
    47.15%: 5
    54.9%: 6
    60.3%: 7
    66.8%: 8
    73.05%: 9
    78.2%: 10

    Oh, the CR 2 monsters ended up being kinda similar to when I had all the SRD monsters represented.
  • edited April 2
    So, what about a threshold that'll be the CR of the attacker ? The higher, the more chances it has to cut your arm clean. Just speculating : I don't play D&D.
  • The way you phrased that, DeReel, makes me think it's… kinda GOOD that the higher CR enemies have a higher chance of knocking you out by bypassing your wound threshold. Guy with a sword? Maybe you can stand up. GREEN DRAGON BREATHING POISON!? zoinks i fainted
  • The way you phrased that, DeReel, makes me think it's… kinda GOOD that the higher CR enemies have a higher chance of knocking you out by bypassing your wound threshold. Guy with a sword? Maybe you can stand up. GREEN DRAGON BREATHING POISON!? zoinks i fainted
    You know, Sandra, the way you phrased this here kinda reminded me of the damage threshold and condition track rules from Star Wars Saga Edition. If I'm remembering correctly, if a character takes damage equal or greater than his or her Constitution score they take a step on the condition track (the 5E equivalent would be levels of exhaustion, I think).

    Trent
  • Yes! Wounds & vitality! I was reading old rec.games.frp.advocacy threads and they were talking about a house rule that was similar to wounds&vitality from Star Wars Saga Edition and that absolutely inspired this.

    But this is more similar in execution to 4E's "bloodied" idea (half HP, except here I haven't settled on what value to use yet, if I go with 1 or 3 or if I go with Con modifier or w/e). (Frantic discussion on our private & secret D&D board is also ongoing)
  • Sandra, might it just be simpler to tie lingering injuries to critical hits and/or critical misses on saving throws? You have a similar frequency (5% notwithstanding critical range shenanigans) that a) scales well, b) is fairly easy to remember, c) doesn't affect the balance of ability scores, and d) affects both PCs and NPCs equally.

    Trent
  • If I'm understanding right, that's a very different distribution, Trent. What Sandra calculated was "if someone's gonna go down, via a bunch of hits, how often will they not-quite go down rather than going immediately to 0 hp?" What a crit would do is "on every single hit, how often will something more than a hit happen?"

    The difference is

    HIT, HIT, HIT, HIT, HIT, HIT, HIT-wonder-if-special, HIT-wonder-if-special-nope-at-zero-now

    versus

    HIT-wonder-if-special, HIT-wonder-if-special, HIT-wonder-if-special, HIT-wonder-if-special, HIT-wonder-if-special, HIT-wonder-if-special...
  • That's right Guy♥

    I want to keep HP as death clock not turning it into liters of blood.
    The phrases "hit" and "critical hit" already dilute that message.
  • Agreed, @Guy Srinivasan , although I would argue that remembering your enemy rolled a natural 20 is more intuitive to most players than remembering you fell below a particular hit point threshold (even if its a threshold that is the same for everyone).

    Trent
  • Given all of the trappings around D&D, AC, HP, crits etc — you are right, Trent. There's precedent with more dangerous crits in Arms Law and Claw Law and similar. Even Pathfinder has the deck of crits

    But I'm thinking of these moving gears just as much in Fate, AW, BitD terms.

    Your post is actually a good argument for the wound threshold or "fainting buffer" being 1 hp. It should be memorable/noticable enough to go down to 1 HP right?
  • My use of thresholds of different value for penaltys is not that diffrent from this thinking. Even if in my case I did use dice as counters.
  • @2097 very true.
  • edited April 4
    Making the threshold equal to the PC's level seems like an easy thing to remember.

    Or equal to their proficiency bonus.

    Meanwhile, this thread is sending my mind in other directions.

    For some reason this is making me imagine a system that goes like this:

    1. There is an ancillary wound/death system. Perhaps based on Constitution or your level or something like that. Very nasty. Grievous wounds, bleeding, unconsciousness, etc.

    It would encompass spells and magical effects, too - perhaps an auto-success for these. (But they would all get rated in damage numbers, too!)

    2. When you get hit, though, you can spend a number of hit points in order to avoid using that system. You hope to never use it, ideally!

    How many hit points? The cost is based on the incoming damage.

    An attack dealing 10 points is a 10-pt attack, in other words. That's the "incoming damage".

    3. Perhaps it looks something like this (the numbers would have to be changed; this is just a "proof of concept"):

    * Pay half the incoming damage: the blow catches you off guard, and we apply [some condition] - prone, blinded, disarmed, at disadvantage, an exhaustion level, or similar, and perhaps your opponent chooses which - spell effects are doubled in duration, saves at a disadvantage, and so on. (Maybe the attack type determines what those effects are, like a vorpal sword cutting off a limb, or a rust monster's attack eating away at your armour.)
    * Pay exactly the incoming damage: you choose if a) the blow is painful but mostly cosmetic in nature - scratches, bruises, cuts - or b) you parry or block the attack, but you're driven back or at disadvantage.
    * Pay 1.5x the incoming damage: you parry the blow, block it, or it bounces off your armour. (If it's an area of effect spell, you get advantage against it.)
    * Pay double the incoming damage: you avoid the blow entirely. It doesn't even touch you.
    * Pay triple the incoming damage: you avoid the blow effortlessly, with grace and style, and gain advantage against your enemy, may counterattack immediately, or something similar.

    Hopefully you can see what this does. First of all, you get some choices - you can spend a lot of HP in a fight with an inferior opponent to dominate them. If you trust you can win easily, you can make it look easy, too.

    Second, fictional details get rolled into this. That makes for interesting choices in combat. Some dude is swinging a cudgel at you? No problem, you can take "painful but cosmetic" blows all day. However, the same dude comes at you with a poisoned knife, and now you have to spend more HP to avoid that poison, or give ground. It's scarier...

    Against a dragon breathing deadly infernal death-fire, though, you'll probably want to spend double the HP to jump clear, if you can afford to, or you'll find out what it does to human flesh! Same with the level-draining ghoul... better not let it touch you! That means fighting it is more tiring.

    There's no more ambiguity about what a "hit" means: this tells you exactly what just happened. The fiction is really clear.

    I also like that you don't need ever-increasing damage totals to make attacks scary - a different mode of attack can described in fictional terms of in terms of effects instead of just increasing numbers.

    For example, a monster shoots weird acid tentacles at you. You don't know what they could do: eat away at your armour, poison you, disfigure you... so do you take the extra effort to jump out of the way?

    Also, you can't ever "bypass HP" to down someone: your "death clock" is always useful for you, always there to protect you.

    The combination of those two means that HP is always meaningful, but scary stuff is still scary - do you brave touching that green ray, even though it would take a desperate effort to jump clear, or not? Your friend just got turned to stone by it... do you think you could survive it?

    (And, of course, we could design fun character features and abilities to interface with this, with better replacements for "Uncanny Dodge" and stuff like that. Maybe a monster's ability to avoid your attack by bursting into smoke and reappearing behind you now just costs them HP instead of being limited to "3 times per day" or some other weird limitation. For those following the other discussion, that might feel more "associated" for some players.)

    How to bring in the fainting thing?

    Maybe something like:

    * Pay less than the incoming damage: remaining damage gets applied to the "serious wound" system. (So a 5-point blow against a 1-hp target really hurts, but a 5-point blow against a 4-hp target hurts less.)

    You have the same buffer there. (The first X points of damage on the grievous harm chart are unconscious or injury or something.)

    Or: the difference between the attack and what you're able to pay is how many rounds you'll be incapacitated/out of action. Or how many rolls you have to make, or the penalty to your death saves/unconsciousness saves. You have 3 HP and someone hits you for 10. You can't afford even half the HP, so you're rolling your death saves at -7.

    Or you have to make the roll by at least 7 points not to fall unconscious, perhaps.

    Adjust to taste.
  • Hey, that last one is a simple enough idea:

    When you drop below 1 HP, record what your negative total would have been (its absolute value, really, I guess).

    When you roll your death save, we find out if you're dying or just unconscious. If you don't make the save by that many points, you're dying. Otherwise, you're unconscious.

    For example, you take enough damage to hit 0 HP. Any failed roll means you're just unconscious - it's safe. But if you took 3 more points, now there's a 15% chance there's a lingering injury.

    I'd probably add your level to death saves now; makes a nice difference, as attacks get more dangerous with levels.
  • edited April 4
    Paul's idea is very pawn stance. It's similar to how Fate works as Trent pointed out above.

    Here is what I'm thinking rn (still not final):

    The wound threshold (a.k.a. the fainting buffer) is, by default, 1. That's the minimum.

    Any player may record a higher WT for their character. Any number, just as long as it's lower than their max HP. If they want to be tough and want to have a higher chance of staying awake through wounds. It's also then their responsibility to keep track of when their WT is hit. If a player doesn't do that or doesn't know about this mechanic the WT is 1. This becomes an optional thing for the super enfranchised players at the table and hopefully not an additional burden on new players.

    Earlier this morning I wrote to my players that increasing your WT did not give you extra HP. But maybe I should add that taking a wound w/o fainting gives you insp. You can, but don't have to, use that insp right away on your new injury. That'd be a good reward for setting & tracking a high WT.

    The limit "you can set this during character creation & leveling" is there because that is moments when pawn stance is more appropriate.
  • I created a new thread for the rule now that the first proposal is final and I've decided what the first playtest will iterate from.
  • Sorry Paul I guess your idea isn't as pawn stance as I first thought. It's not that you take hits in order to prevent HP loss. It's that you take HP loss in order to prevent hits? Or IDK.

    I like the idea that someone can get clobbered with a cudgel. OTOH it's dangerous to hit people with cudgels they might die
  • A while ago I talked to @Paul_T about how with our rules there is no chance of playing out the trope of “your leg is chopped off but you’re still awake”. You faint instantly if you get seriously hurt. I think there is a lot of good to that (veiling the gore of combat) but a way around it could be to introduce sort of a “fainting buffer”; a zone of HP where you are hit but not down.

    Not a direct reply to or comment on your 3hp threshold rule, but...

    The way I would approach that is make the ability to stay in the fight while wounded for real a player-activated option, probably based on a finite resource. You choose to spend extra willpower to stay in the fight, basically.
    Since 5E has Inspiration, I'd probably go with that: when you drop to 0 HPs, spend your Inspiration to keep fighting despite a grievous wound (a single round? a number of rounds based on your Con? save vs fainting at the end of each round?); otherwise, you're unconscious/helpless (default).
    I know, that's very... story-gamey? It's very loosely based on Sorcerer, in fact.
  • As you saw later in the other thread, what I cooked up does enable something similar. The insp can be used to help you in the [the pretty's attack vs your AC] roll. So you can use it to mitigate the chance that the injury is serious, or to improve your own attacks vs the monster, or to protect yourself from the monster

    Insp is pretty much willpower in our brew. That makes sense for the hillfolky stuff too, your willpower or resolve or just stubborness points.
  • edited April 4
    I have tried a bunch of different wound tables for D&D but finally settled on this rule:

    When damage puts you at 0 or fewer hit points roll 1d6.

    1. Gory death (instant death, 3 mutilations)
    2. Mortal wound (out of action but may speak for 1 turn before dying)
    3. Critical wound (knocked out and death in 1 turn unless healed to positive hp, wounded state*, 1 mutilation)
    4. Wounded (knocked out till healed to positive hp, wounded state*)
    5. Maimed but standing (1 mutilation)
    6. Just dazed (knocked out 1 round)

    Mutilations are a separate d12 table of permanent injuries, some causing disability and some that can be fixed with a visit to the dentist. Mutilated bodies get more spiritual injuries if raised from the dead.

    *the wounded state means moving at half speed and any meaningful adventuring activity such as fighting, spell casting, running for your life or searching for traps opens up your wounds putting you at 0 hp (if not already negative) causing a new death roll. The wounded state is cured by 2d4 weeks of bed rest,

    So far my players have had fun rolling on this table and it avoids a drawn out death opera but still lets you make heroic last stands either risking further fighting when at negative hp or even fighting past your wounded state causing more severe wounds. Especially maimed but standing is cool, you can keep fighting maybe an arm short.

    The odds are very transparent to the players. 1/3 risk of death, 1/2 risk of mutilation, 1/3 chance of fighting on.

    This table also squares with historical commentary on death in medieval battles, sometimes slight injuries kill people outright, sometimes horrible wounds barely affect someone's combat prowess. Hit points are the safety cushion, beyond them lies chaos.
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  • Haha! Well played, Sandra.

    (And I was thinking the same thing!)

    Krippler, I like that table quite a bit. Simple but with a lot of "bite".

    There's no differentiation between characters, attack types, or how badly wounded you are before the "final blow", though. I suppose that might be unnecessary complexity, and wouldn't be too hard to build in, if it wasn't.

    Two things I don't understand:

    Why do you have to specify "3 mutilations" on a gory death? Is it something to do with raising the dead, as you suggest later? Or just Colour? (e.g. "The corpse was missing its left arm, had a broken leg, and missing an eye...")

    Given that this is for D&D, where magical healing is plentiful, what's the difference between #2 and #3?
  • Sorry Paul I guess your idea isn't as pawn stance as I first thought. It's not that you take hits in order to prevent HP loss. It's that you take HP loss in order to prevent hits? Or IDK.

    I like the idea that someone can get clobbered with a cudgel. OTOH it's dangerous to hit people with cudgels they might die
    Yeah, interesting that you had that reaction.

    It's not the cleanest implementation (it was just off the top of my head), but what excites me about in principle is that these are very much in-character choices to make - and choices that are usually denied to the players in D&D. (You generally have very little say in D&D over how much or how little you want to defend yourself or how scared you are of a certain source of damage or threat - it's basically all AC and to-hit rolls.)

    Taking a hit to save HP shouldn't really be an option: you'd want the "grievous wounds" table to be pretty bad, like Krippler's, or maybe even worse. Rather, you're deciding how confident you feel about being able to handle a certain blow. Spending your precious "death clock" HP to stay in the fight and avoid death.

    It's like this: an enemy sends an attack at you, they roll to hit (qualifying it as potentially deadly threat), and they roll damage (telling us how well placed this particular attack is). Then you have to decide how scared you are of that attack, and how you'd like to defend. Do you feel confident enough against this enemy that you can be all flashy and cool? Guess wrong and you're likely to lose against a skilled opponent. (But it could be important if you're fighting a duel in front of an audience! Are you willing to use the fancy footwork, even though it will wear you out pretty quick and make it more likely you'll make a lethal error? Or do you want to play it safe?)

    Similarly, consider the scary thing that's coming at you. Will you give ground? Are you willing to take the blow on your shield?

    Those, to me, are very much in-character choices, and I'd be excited to make them as the character. (Again, particularly because you don't get to make this kind of choice in D&D, whereas in real life, or fiction, they are very interesting and relevant choices in a scary situation or a battle. Will I duck out of the way of the incoming arrows, or trust them to bounce off my armour? But what if it turns out they're exploding arrows? And so on.)

  • edited April 5
    @Krippler, j/k about the name, I think we're on the same page here. HP as cushion and then aches & pain. I use the system from 5e since that's what we're playing and I like it enough to not want to throw it out. I just wanted a tiny li'l tweak.

    (Here's how it works; most of you know this but some might've forgotten or don't know — when you go to zero (there is no negative) you faint. [Optional rule from the DMG: you roll on lingering injuries table here. Could be minor scars or chanbara level arm loss.]
    If you took your current hp and your max hp combined in one blow, you die outright. Like if you have max HP 50 and you had 13 HP and you take 63 or more damage it's the next train to Nangijala for you (the book phrases it super weirdly though: "when damage reduces you to 0 hit points and there is damage remaining, you die if the remaining damage equals or exceeds your hit point maximum" which is weird it compromises the "there is no negative HP" thing. But the examples make it clear enough).

    Then it's time to make death saves. Fail three you die, succeed three you're still unconscious for hours and hours but at least not in risk of immediate death. Crit you wake up with one HP (so that's another way to get arms chopped off w/o fainting even before I added my fainting buffer / wound threshold rule!). Roll a 1 and that counts as 2 fails.

    People chopping at you inflict 2 fails on you per hit if they're next to you, and one if they're further away. So you can die really quickly.

    You go down, and you get two more mêlée hits on you, you're dead before the start of your round and before even get to roll death saves. If you got one more mêlée hit on you, you're dead if you even fail one death save. You have less than 10% of making that.
  • (Quick question: how do you get "less than 10% of making that"? Isn't it a straight 12.5% chance of survival?)
  • edited April 5
    I math errored!
    I mistakenly thought four rolls for some reason ["three successes and a fail" but that's not how it works] and that's 6.25, and then I thought "but it's higher than that because if you roll 20 you survive right away". So it's higher than 12.5% too for the same reason

    Edit: and I also forgot that a death save has 5% chance of super fail, 40% chance of ordinary fail, 50% chance of ordinary success, and 5% chance of super success
  • edited April 5
    (Ah! Yes. Thank you! It's about a 20% chance of survival, then. Higher than you would think, given that situation!)
  • @Paul_T

    I see building in differentiation from different attack types as needlessly complex. Whether a 10th level fighter is mauled by a dragon or a giant rat something has gone horribly wrong and the result should be severe. And if the 1st level fighter survives mauling by a dragon with a small scar, all the more interesting a story. If I want to make something especially deadly I'll simply add a local rule for that monster, something like "this monster always causes gory death".

    Color and function. I'm using the ACKS "Tampering with mortality" table for raising the dead, the worse state the body is in te less chance of regaining life and the higher risk of spiritual complications.

    #2 means you're dying no matter what (excepting raise dead) but you get to deliver some final words. #3 means you're knocked out and probably dying unless healing resources are spent. Considering people can go deeply into negatives and still be up (I had a player who spent 2 sessions at -7 hp before finally biting it) your healing resources might not be enough. Healing magic is not plentiful at my table since there are no clerics in my game so Cure Light Wounds competes with Sleep and Detect Magic.

    A final important difference between #3 and #4 is whether the enemy is likely to take you prisoner. Few monsters have healing resources so if you leave #3 behind they're dead but #4 is captured.
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