A Descriptive Damage Hack for Dungeon World/World of Dungeons

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  • edited July 2016
    It's also in accordance with the text, which I've quoted upthread. But, that's not a goal in and of it self to hackers like us :D
  • I'll get back to this in more detail, but I read the 5E online (SRD-type) rules, and they do seem to align with your "vision" fairly well. But there's nothing there about injury - what's that like? There's a table for various injury types?
  • edited July 2016
    I wrote about this upthread but to put it all in one place: it's an optional rule in the DMG page 272. The table is not open source but here it is:
    1 Lose an Eye.
    You have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight and on ranged attack rolls. Magic such as the regenerate spell can restore the lost eye. If you have no eyes left after sustaining this injury, you're blinded.

    2 Lose an Arm or a Hand. You can no longer hold anything with two hands, and you can hold only a single object at a time. Magic such as the regenerate spell can restore the lost appendage.

    3 Lose a Foot or Leg. Your speed on foot is halved, and you must use a cane or crutch to move unless you have a peg leg or other prosthesis. You fall prone after using the Dash action. You have disadvantage on Dexterity checks made to balance. Magic such as the regenerate spell can restore the lost appendage.

    4 Limp. Your speed on foot is reduced by 5 feet. You must make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw after using the Dash action. If you fail the save, you fall prone. Magical healing removes the limp.

    5-7 Internal Injury. Whenever you attempt an action in combat, you must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, you lose your action and can't use reactions until the start of your next turn. The injury heals if you receive magical healing or if you spend ten days doing nothing but resting.

    8-10 Broken Ribs. This has the same effect as Internal Injury above, except that the save DC is 10.

    11-13 Horrible Scar. You are disfigured to the extent that the wound can't be easily concealed. You have disadvantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks and advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks. Magical healing of 6th level or higher, such as heal and regenerate, removes the scar.

    14-16 Festering Wound. Your hit point maximum is reduced by 1 every 24 hours the wound persists. If your hit point maximum drops to 0, you die. The wound heals if you receive magical healing. Alternatively, someone can tend to the wound and make a DC 15 Wisdom (Medicine) check once every 24 hours. After ten successes, the wound heals.

    17-20 Minor Scar. The scar doesn't have any adverse effect. Magical healing of 6th level or higher, such as heal and regenerate, removes the scar.
    Or you can use any other hit location method. What I like about this version of the table is that it explicitly says how to fix the injury, and that it ranges from pretty mild to pretty bad. (Of course you can also die outright on the death saves before even getting to this table.)

    It also gives three options for how to use this:
    • Any crit [My comment this could be a way for you to get the action movie style you want: soldiering on even after like losing a foot or something]
    • When the character drops to 0
    • When the player rolls 4 or lower on a death save [rephrased, their phrasing is more convoluted]

    [My comment: Of course if you combine two or more of these, you get even more injuries. Crits AND zeros AND super low death save rolls.]

    It also goes on give an alternative option: to use the same table but only use the bolded part and then not put a game effect in there, to just allow players to use it for insp fishing a la Fate consequences.

    It's then followed by another optional rule I didn't notice until today which makes it easier for characters to die from big hits and introduces a "system shock" roll table. It's interesting, if you take a certain amount of HP loss in one sweep you roll on this table and some of the effects include falling unconscious or getting stunned. But, it clashes with my vision of what HP is, and the characters in my game die easily enough.
  • In my games, and we use the drop-to-zero method, crits have been more common than drop-to-zero and obv super low death saves only can happen after someone has already dropped to zero, so they're per definition rarer. Not strictly, because someone could then sustain multiple lingering injuries.
    Another reason I've chosen the drop-to-zero option is that it's something you can roll if the character survives. No need to do it if they're already dead.
    But the crit version I see a lot of appeal, and also combining versions.

    The sort of fantasy I'm after is "it's all fun and games until someone gets to zero", but as you can see there are some options there.
  • edited July 2016
    So, how does it work? (And those are pretty grim! Wow!)

    When you reach 0 hit points, what happens next? Do you roll a save, and either die or end up horribly injured? The basic rules say that you die if you fail three death saves after reaching 0 hit points; do you get a horrible injury every time you reach 0 hit points (under your rules), or is it more convoluted than that?

    I don't like that there's no relationship between *how* you lost your last hit points and the injury you receive, but that's pretty typical for how D&D rules tend to work, and it's probably functional enough most of the time.

    I do like how it makes falling to 0 hp very scary (and consequential) but effectively relatively toothless if you have access to magical healing.
  • How it works:
    Get to 0.
    Roll death saves. It's a convoluted procedure that involves getting three fails or three successes with lots of exceptions and special weirdness but typically you either die then and there, or are unconscious for 1d4 hours.

    If you don't die, we roll on the table. (Again, there are other options but that's how I do it.)
    If you do die then we don't roll on the table.
    I don't like that there's no relationship between *how* you lost your last hit points and the injury you receive, but that's pretty typical for how D&D rules tend to work, and it's probably functional enough most of the time.
    Yeah, a couple of dissonant ideas come up and the group weave it together into a coherent narrative. Like "Your foot got burned off in the fireball" or "Your face is completely disfigured with bubbles from the venom spray".
    I do like how it makes falling to 0 hp very scary (and consequential) but effectively relatively toothless if you have access to magical healing.
    What has happened is that characters have died because they were so worn down with lost feet and broken ribs that the next fight, before they even had magical healing, were more dangerous.

    And to heal some of this stuff we're talking level 11 characters.
  • Cool, that seems pretty workable. It's also a good match for your vision of hit points as "dramatic immunity in a given fight", which recovers quickly and isn't strictly related to your state of injury.

    It does, to my mind, still have the usual issues of D&D hit points, which is that they simply break down any time we zoom in on what's happening enough to discuss the details of what's happening. The earlier "presidential assassination" is one example; here's another:

    You're fighting a monster, and one of your hands is stuck to one of those magically-sticky D&D spiderwebs. You have your sword in your other hand, fending off the beast. However, a friend (or perhaps a sadistic enemy!) comes by and says they chop at your arm with their sword. They're trying to cut off your hand, so you'll be free from the web.

    As soon as we "zoom in" on the fiction to that kind of degree, traditional D&D-style hit points become incredibly clumsy and they get in our way. If the idea is that no one gets hurt until they lose all their hit points, how do we handle this? Sure, there's lots of ways we can do it, but not by following the existing rules - we have to break away from them.

    Some people are very good at doing that; they make a ruling on the spot and we move on. (And many versions of D&D have some add-on rules for "called shots" or "critical injuries" to paste over this kind of cludge.)

    A similar issue is walking up behind someone and trying to knock them out by hitting them over the head. I've yet to see a D&D rule for this kind of thing which actually works, and, even if it does, it's going to be an exception-based rule. Hit points just won't cut it.

    To me, it's awkward game design if it forces you to do that (i.e. make rulings on the spot, or pull in optional rules, because the basic rules can't handle that situation). I prefer playing a game where that kind of conundrum doesn't come up in the first place.

    Hit points work just great when all you're doing is narrating abstract actions - "I'm attacking so and so", "A new encounter begins here", "You two are attacking the ogre; she is casting a spell".

    For a game which focuses in more on the specifics of the imagined space, however, things can get pretty difficult. Since Dungeon World-type games seek to deliver that kind of experience, I feel they need rules which interact with those fictional details in a productive way, so that our narrations and our character choices matter.




  • Right, I've definitely run into the presidential assassination issue in actual play and it's a real problem, though rare. (As in, once in two years rare -- and our everyday play isn't just we gloss over attacks, we have -- because 5e is so flavorfur with its on hit/on 0hp triggers -- significantly interesting play in this regard, I'm talking "The monster eats your brain and wears your body" interesting -- iirc it was attacking Int rather than HP)

    Our presidential assassination example was an archer who had a sworn enemy a dragon and fired that last desperate shot at the dragon's eye.
    Obv the dragon just laughed it off and ate the archer.
    To the dissatisfaction of all.
    But. Once in two years. That's pretty good.

    And obv there are other wound systems that don't have this problem (I've brought up Fate a couple of times) and I think they're a better fit for you than the proposed hp hack.
  • OK! How so? :)

    That's an interesting discussion for this thread!

    (Also, do you see now how my hack attempts to solve most of the issues I've discussed, while retaining the familiarity of "hit points", or should we discuss that, as well?)
  • You upthread mentioned that non-HP-using solutions were explitly off topic and Fate doesn't use HP. But check out the system Fate Core uses.

    To bring it back, no, I don't see how your hack solves your issues -- such as the spiderweb issue or the assassination issue -- nor how it retains the familiarity of HP since it is so different from HP.
    I also see how "my vision" could change to solve the issues at the expense of other benefits.
  • Ok, right. Fate Core. I remember now: you enter a conflict, and then you can "take" hits to your stress track (basically hit points, except that they don't always add together), or take them as consequence. If you are unwilling or unable, you lose the conflict, instead.

    I like this approach, and I think it's good, but it's very "meta". We're dealing with positioning numbers on a sheet, balancing advantage against disadvantage, and so on. Here, I wanted to create something really different.

    So, issues with D&D hit points:

    * It's not clear what they represent. Luck, physical toughness, fatigue, armour, etc, etc. Lots of overlapping concepts create the potential for misunderstanding. (Although that can be circumvented by a group that has a very disciplined approach, like your fairly clear stance that "no one gets hit until their hit points are depleted". Still, there are fuzzy areas - you're fighting a Giant Ooze in a right corridor, and you're going to tell me that bringing down its hit points does NOT mean it's getting hit?)

    * Not knowing what they represent means that rules for things like poisons and healing are generally inconsistent or, similarly, wildly abstract. (e.g. Why is a healing spell more effective on a weak character than a strong character?)

    * "To-hit" rolls do NOT actually help us figure out whether someone was hit or not. "Missing" can mean the person dodged; but so can losing some hit points. We just don't know!

    * Armor class, similarly, does not help us decide whether someone actually got hit or not. You can have a high AC because you're very agile, or because you're very sturdy, and they're handled the same way. Especially if you add them together, again, we get no help from the system in terms of imagining what's actually happening.

    * Finally, removing hit points may or may not mean you got hit, and we have no way to determine which.

    All of these are abstractions which work well when handled as abstractions, but leave us hanging whenever we try to "zoom in" and see what's actually going on in detail.

    * Hit points can make some people "invincible" when they shouldn't be (e.g. assassinating the president). Sometimes we don't mind this and we roll with the punches; sometimes we have to make house rules or rulings to make things work out.

    * Hit points can make people extremely fragile when they shouldn't be. (You have 1 hit point left, and some punches you in the arm. Depending on the edition of D&D, this could leave you dead, unconscious or with a weird injury like "missing an eye".)

    Some of these things are handled by a particular set of house rules in this edition or that, but I've never seen a ruleset which handles them all.

    Now, I named this thread a "A Descriptive Damage Hack". What makes AW-based games somewhat interesting to a lot of people is that the rules make the description *really matter*. I wanted to bring the importance of the description happening at the table to the forefront with these rules.

    (Would that be even better without hit points at all? Definitely, and I've developed rules along those lines before, like hereHERE. But in this case I was curious if I could accomplish anything while *retaining hit points*, just as a design challenge.)

    OK, so:

    With D&D hit points, we have all the issues listed above, but also a potentially unfortunate issue where what we describe doesn't matter. I can describe sticking a knife into your arms or into your ribs, slicing or stabbing, from above or below, and, as far as the system is concerned, it's all the same. The only way we can reconcile the two is either to keep things abstract ("You're firing shot after shot at the president, but he seems to be still standing!") or to narrate only AFTER the results are known ("Oh! You rolled a 5 for damage? Sounds like you shot him straight through the heart!").

    However, in either case, describing the action in any detail is not really necessary, often problematic, and therefore easy to simply omit from play. "You hit him and deal 5 damage" works great. "I'm kneeling low and shooting an arrow into his eye!" - that doesn't.

    I really wanted to see if we could change that. Can we still use hit points and make a game which is based on description, detailed narration, and have those things matter?

    That's what I was going for.
  • So, in this hack:

    We're using Dungeon World or some similar ruleset, which we can use to determine whether someone gets hit or not. However, it also makes things relatively safe for the player, so the MC can feel to narrate harm in detail. In a fight, when it's the MC's turn to make a hard move, she simply narrates a hit, as appropriate to the fiction.

    That settles our issues with "did he get hit, or not?". We *know*, every time.

    Hit points under this hack are VERY obviously not representative of anything - they are purely abstract, and there is nothing about the ruleset which implies otherwise. There's no chance for misunderstanding or disagreement: the rules never put us in a position where that's an issue (e.g. the assassination of the president).

    This solves some other issues, like not knowing whether someone was hurt or not or what kind of damage has been dealt.

    We have no issues with things like Armor Class - again, we always know if someone's been hit, so that whole conundrum is no issue.

    In this hack, the way hit points interact with the harm move apply equally to an incredibly wide range of effects and situations. We can effortlessly use them for poisons, mind control, curses, maybe even disease, grappling, attempts to kill, attempts to knock out, spells which make you go insane, and so on. This is very appealing to me; this kind of flexibility allows us to venture boldly into all kinds of game territory with great ease.

    The detail of narration not only *matters* a great deal, but the system is dependent on it. For instance, if I get hit in a fight, I literally *cannot* proceed until I have some idea of what actually happened. In D&D it's sufficient to say, "you got hit, take off 5 hit points". In this game, we can't do that. I have no idea how many hit points to spend or which options to choose until I hear a description of what happened. The narration here is vitally important, and can't be skipped, even accidentally! We need those details; the game thrives on them.

    That fulfills the descriptive criteria in a way which not only often is unnecessary with D&D-style hit points but can even be actively harmful.

    Similarly, since the hit points are abstract and only interact with the resist harm move, we never have a target who is utterly invincible or ridiculously fragile. The right attack can kill anyone at any time (well, at least so long as we maintain a cap on how many points are spent on a given roll, anyway, which is easy to do if that's desired), but a weak attack against someone with no hit points is no more scary than otherwise: a punch in the arm is still a punch in the arm. The "last" hit point has no special value which makes it different from the second-to-last hit point. That punch can't kill anyone unless we have explicitly decided that it should, for some reason. It will never break our suspension of disbelief.

    Further, the resist harm and recovery moves *always* tell us important details about the action happening, such as whether the character is hampered by the injury and whether it could be troublesome later. (Things which I find are generally awkward to make rulings on in D&D, requiring something like the injury table to adjudicate fairly.) We know whether the character is in a position to retaliate, whether they are immediately affected by the injury or not, and so on (which makes it great for dealing with a variety of effects, as well, like firing a magical spiderweb at someone).

    So, that's how I see it in action.

    I do not consider it a perfect ruleset by any means - it has a number of issues, including a certain awkwardness to using armour and/or healing, potential difficulties determining whether an attack is lethal, and the mathematical issue of breakpoints we've been discussing. But it's just the first draft.

    It's also not as helpful from the GM-side. We could potentially use it as written for the GM, as well, if we wanted to, however, and it would work just fine.

    Does that answer your questions, or not yet?
  • edited July 2016
    (And now I've caught up with your "How does D&D5E have teeth?" topic, which, oddly enough, is precisely about this. See, the whole damage/hit points thing in D&D not only doesn't have teeth, it actually can break down when you try to define things. It's beyond toothless and actively resists you doing that stuff! I've tried to build a hit point hack which DOES have "teeth" in this sense - things have to be described in order for the players to make decisions. That should lead to more rich, colourful play.)
  • I think the challenge with this hack is that we are so used to harm and death being a mechanically-driven process that removing it from that sphere becomes quickly confusing.

    In particular I'm talking about how we differentiate between the harm suffered from a dragon's bite and a punch in the arm. I think I finally get how your hack does this though, Paul (you probably already get this but I want to write it out anyway to see if it helps clear confusion).

    Essentially the harm suffered is found in the choices we don't pick. Let's say I get punched in the arm and roll a 7-9. If I think about my options on that list, I can pretty safely choose the +1 forward because a punch in the arm which is as bad as it seems will most likely be a bruise, and maybe it hinders me in this battle because it hurts a bit – maybe a -1 to Defy Danger+CON.

    If I get bitten in half by a dragon and roll a 7-9, let's once again say I pick the +1 forward. In this case it's as bad as it seems because I get torn in half and I'm dead, and it's going to hinder me for the rest of the battle because I'm out, I'm dead.

    I think this places a big responsibility on the GM to describe in full the harm being suffered. Really, the GM should already be thinking of the potential outcomes and endeavour to communicate them to the player. I think this is where some of the disconnect from other sorts of mechanics comes in. Usually I'd say "the goblin thrusts its spear at you", roll to hit, roll damage, and then say either "the spear's blade scratches along your ribcage" or "the spear plunges into your chest" depending on damage dealt.

    Whereas for this hack, instead I'd say either "the spear's blade scratches along your ribcage" or "the spear plunges into your chest" and then the player rolls and decides what to do with that information – and I have to go to the injury first otherwise the player won't know what to do, as a spear coming at them could mean any number of things and also doesn't activate the rule.

    So, a question for you, Paul. How do you, the GM, determine whether the spear grazed a character or stabbed them? There's a risk for a GM of becoming someone who arbitrarily hands out death, which all the various rolls in to-hit/damage systems take responsibility for instead.
  • I get setting up with a soft move, like "the goblin charges at you with its spear raised" but how do I decide the hardness of the next move in a way which is fair, considering that there's lots of different possible harm risks which the player could be reading in that moment.

    Also I had a thought about armour – what if armour gave you an extra choice on the list (e.g on a 7-9 choose two, on a 10+ choose 3, etc.) but also added an extra option to the list: "-your armour isn't damaged".
  • edited July 2016
    Yes, that's exactly right, Andye.

    There are three things here:

    1. It's IS a little bit challenging for the GM to hit the right level of description to clearly telegraph the danger of the injury but also to leave a little wiggle room for the choices made. I think this is a very "learnable" skill, however (not that different from other GM-description duties in RPGs, tricky but manageable).

    For instance, consider the president in our example being shot with a poisoned arrow. I would say something like, "You hear a whistling noise, and suddenly there is a feathered shaft sticking out of your arm - a bright pain in your arm, but also something else, something unfamiliar... is it a burning sensation?"

    Then we'd go to the dice.

    On a bad roll, the character is on the ground, dying from poison. On a good roll, it turns out the arrow is stuck in his armour or sleeve, and just grazed his arm. There is the stinging sensation from the poison, but only a drop of it got into his system, and he shrugs it off. On a medium roll, he can clench his teeth and go on, but perhaps his arm isn't working any more. Or he ignores the pain and fights, but will be in danger of succumbing to the poison once the fight is over.

    (Which reminds me: it might also be good to put in a "give in to the pain" option, instead of rolling at all. That way you choose whether you want to 'resist the pain', or just take the blow and concede defeat. I like that conceptually, but I don't have a good way of representing it mechanically just yet. Perhaps it could be as simple as a bonus on the recovery roll, however.)

    2. The system is pretty forgiving for the PCs, so the GM/MC should feel free to play pretty hard, and just narrate more-or-less the harshest kind of harm which "feels right". Note that in the example above, I said it hit his arm. I could have said chest, instead; but I think the extra wiggle room is such that the MC can "disclaim responsibility" and simply narrate what seems right fictionally. (In this case, I guess I didn't picture the archer as supernaturally skilled!)

    The idea is that the MC can be brave and let the system worry about the consequences.

    3. When should an attack actually be *deadly*, however? That's a more tricky one. I hashed out a number of possible solutions earlier in the thread. Here are my two favourites thus far:

    a) Any attack which would plausibly be lethal is assumed to be. An arrow? Yeah, definitely. But if only your leg was exposed and it hit you in the calf, then probably not (unless the character doesn't take care of the wound and spends the night in the swamp, then it probably gets infected, right?).

    In other words, always *assume* that a wound is lethal, unless it simply isn't plausible that it would be.

    b) Assign any given monster or attack a "deadliness" rating, from 2 to 12. If the "resist harm" roll doesn't beat the "deadliness" rating, the attack threatens to be lethal.
  • Thanks Paul - so whether the spear sticks you or scrapes you really depends on the result of the roll and the choice made by the player. I can see that working if you describe the wound in terms of feeling, rather than specifics. E.g. "the spear sticks you in the side - there is an intense, sharp pain and you feel hot blood pouring down your flank" then after the roll it can turn out that the spear just nicked you.

    As for lethality, I guess there are two categories of attack - lethal, and non-lethal. Then there are effectively two categories of response to an attack - I suffer it now, or I suffer it later (or both, or neither). You could make a table of possible outcomes.

    Lethal
    - If I suffer it now, then I'm out of the fight, presumed dead, but it wasn't as bad as it seemed, so I don't have to roll to recover.
    - If I suffer it later, then I can keep fighting, but I'll have to roll to see if I succumb to my injuries later (activating your second rule).

    Non-lethal
    - If I suffer it now, then I'm disadvantaged for the fight - maybe I lose my weapon, or I get a bad knock to the head - but after the fight I'll be right as rain.
    - If I suffer it later, then I ignore the pain for now, but after the fight I'll be at a disadvantage - maybe I have trouble remembering things, or something important in my pack got broken.

    Maybe each time you choose to keep fighting against lethal damage, you get a -1 to your later roll to recover, and if you choose to just let the attack drop you then you get +1 to your later roll to recover.

    Also did you read my suggestion about how to work in armour?
  • Those are pretty good thoughts!

    Your "non-lethal" examples sound overly non-lethal to me (after all, taking an arrow through the leg can be "non-lethal" too, depending on how you want to look at it!) but otherwise, yeah, good stuff.

    Your observation on describing the *sensations* of the attack (or other sensory details, like the sounds, smells, or collateral damage) is particularly good!

    In some genres, stuff like "you're thrown clear through a brick wall and the building collapses around you" is very applicable, too.
  • edited July 2016
    Does that answer your questions, or not yet?
    No, it completely sidestepped all my questions :D
    Plus, reopened old ones that I had already answered. I'll deal with them first
    Ok, right. Fate Core. I remember now: you enter a conflict, and then you can "take" hits to your stress track (basically hit points, except that they don't always add together), or take them as consequence. If you are unwilling or unable, you lose the conflict, instead.

    I like this approach, and I think it's good, but it's very "meta". We're dealing with positioning numbers on a sheet, balancing advantage against disadvantage, and so on. Here, I wanted to create something really different.
    Right, the whole stress track thing isn't the best but the fact that you get real consequences, that's good, right?
    So, issues with D&D hit points:
    But there are no issues with D&D hit points, what I wanted to know is how the hack's hitpoints are better!
    It's not clear what they represent. Luck, physical toughness, fatigue, armour, etc, etc. Lots of overlapping concepts create the potential for misunderstanding. (Although that can be circumvented by a group that has a very disciplined approach, like your fairly clear stance that "no one gets hit until their hit points are depleted". Still, there are fuzzy areas - you're fighting a Giant Ooze in a right corridor, and you're going to tell me that bringing down its hit points does NOT mean it's getting hit?)
    It's shying away from the hits! "Oh, fire really seems to be scaring it!"
    Also, especially for monsters, we can put in some real harm in the HP in some situations. We just found that we almost never have to do this or that it usually doesn't become better.
    Not knowing what they represent means that rules for things like poisons and healing are generally inconsistent or, similarly, wildly abstract. (e.g. Why is a healing spell more effective on a weak character than a strong character?)
    It's not?
    "To-hit" rolls do NOT actually help us figure out whether someone was hit or not. "Missing" can mean the person dodged; but so can losing some hit points. We just don't know!
    We even know more actually. In both cases the person dodged but if HP had to be involved, it was a close call and some of the "nine lives of the cat" had to become involved, the Gods had to have been smiling.
    Armor class, similarly, does not help us decide whether someone actually got hit or not. You can have a high AC because you're very agile, or because you're very sturdy, and they're handled the same way. Especially if you add them together, again, we get no help from the system in terms of imagining what's actually happening.
    This is something I've described as the "scoff factor" or defense capabilities. You are unaffected by the attack and I typically describe it using the most agential factor in that character's AC. If they have cast mage armor, I say "your magical bindings protect you" and if they have a high dexterity I say "you dodge it" or "quickly parry it">

    What AC gives us is one roll. AC + HP replaces skill + dodge/parry + pd + dr + hp from GURPS. Fast and easy.
    Finally, removing hit points may or may not mean you got hit, and we have no way to determine which.
    True but that's why the moves and attacks have this hardcoded in, such as the vampire's claws vs the vampire's bite.

    The default is that you did not get hit. Having a strong default solves so much.
    Hit points can make some people "invincible" when they shouldn't be (e.g. assassinating the president). Sometimes we don't mind this and we roll with the punches; sometimes we have to make house rules or rulings to make things work out.
    Remember that your example also stated that the assassinator to be using an instantly-killing, never-missing, magical rifle. To even put such an item in the game, the item would require sidestepping AC/HP just like Power Word Kill spell does.
    Hit points can make people extremely fragile when they shouldn't be. (You have 1 hit point left, and some punches you in the arm. Depending on the edition of D&D, this could leave you dead, unconscious or with a weird injury like "missing an eye".)
    So the person turned around in the last second and got smashed in the eye. Or, the attacker used the "I hit to knock" rule which bypasses death saves and injury tables but doesn't work with ranged weapons. (Yes, I readily admit that one huge problem with D&D is the large amount of exceptions and weird rules that are in there! The book captures them well in 4 pages but that's 40 sentences too much!)

    OK, now I'm done with the re-answering old questions part. Now I turn to my own questions:
    Now, I named this thread a "A Descriptive Damage Hack". What makes AW-based games somewhat interesting to a lot of people is that the rules make the description *really matter*. I wanted to bring the importance of the description happening at the table to the forefront with these rules.
    And how does it do this? What does it that makes this work?
    (Would that be even better without hit points at all? Definitely, and I've developed rules along those lines before, like hereHERE. But in this case I was curious if I could accomplish anything while *retaining hit points*, just as a design challenge.)
    Right and I'm not knocking any of the other approaches but I'm kinda skeptical towards this one.
    This one seems that it can also be susceptible to the assasssination president issue but worse:
    The presidents spend hit points and shrug off both the harm rolls (resist harm and the second one).

    Now we have a president that unlike in "my vision" has actually been shot, but still is just standing there delivering the state of the nation laughing at the wound.

    Secondly, your aim seems to have been to severely redefine HP -- retaining their unclear name and all their historical baggage of many meanings over the years, but trying to severely change their mechanics.

    So, the design still needs work to solve the challenge (and solving challenges just for the sake of solving them, even though there would be better solutions if you ditch some of the requirements, I'm all for. Love a good design challenge) because the HP as they seem mess up the descriptions and clarity and everything you're skeptical about in the D&D approach, yet the HP are utterly unfamiliar. So, neither part of the challenge met, so far?
    Hit points under this hack are VERY obviously not representative of anything - they are purely abstract, and there is nothing about the ruleset which implies otherwise. There's no chance for misunderstanding or disagreement: the rules never put us in a position where that's an issue (e.g. the assassination of the president).
    But why not then use a vision in D&D where they're not representative of anything either?
    We don't have these misunderstandings or disagreements in our group either and we even have a representation.

  • edited July 2016
    OK, NOW time for the questions:
    This solves some other issues, like not knowing whether someone was hurt or not or what kind of damage has been dealt.
    How does it solve it?
    We have no issues with things like Armor Class - again, we always know if someone's been hit, so that whole conundrum is no issue.
    How does it do that?
    In this hack, the way hit points interact with the harm move apply equally to an incredibly wide range of effects and situations. We can effortlessly use them for poisons, mind control, curses, maybe even disease, grappling, attempts to kill, attempts to knock out, spells which make you go insane, and so on. This is very appealing to me; this kind of flexibility allows us to venture boldly into all kinds of game territory with great ease.
    How does it do that?
    + For most lot of those we use saves. And saves are also the flexible bold territory thing for us.
    AC/HP makes normal fights exciting while still being fightable instead of insta-death affairs (although in practice they usually do die pretty quickly)
    Saves make the more exotic dangers workable.
    The detail of narration not only *matters* a great deal, but the system is dependent on it. For instance, if I get hit in a fight, I literally *cannot* proceed until I have some idea of what actually happened.
    How does the mechanics of the hack ensure that?
    In D&D it's sufficient to say, "you got hit, take off 5 hit points". In this game, we can't do that. I have no idea how many hit points to spend or which options to choose until I hear a description of what happened. The narration here is vitally important, and can't be skipped, even accidentally! We need those details; the game thrives on them.
    But what if they're too gory?
    Hence "It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye" vision.
    + wouldn't it take ten hours like a GURPS fight does with it's one second rounds and three rolls per round per player?

    So here are some other examples of our games:
    DM: "They are stuck in the web but they can reach you with the hillebards, and they're trying to clobber you with them."
    DM drops eight d20's on the table, two for each guard taking the lowest in each dice pair
    DM: "You lose 16 HP"
    Player: "OK, that's no problem" or
    Player: "Holy shit, those hillebards are looking sharper than I thought, it's getting close!" or
    Player: "They hit me! I'm down"

    That example demonstrated how AC and HP interacted to represent how dangerous the hillebards were to the player.

    Next example:

    DM: "OK so some flying brains come out and start zapping at you with their eye rays. Gidil, make a wis save and a dex save. DC 15"
    Player picks up a black and an orange d20, points at one of them
    Player: "This one's wis"
    Player the two dice on the table
    Player: "I fail the dex"
    DM: "You are paralyzed!"

    That example demonstrated how there are many other types of attack not just the vanilla HP/AC attacks.
  • I just came up with this:
    The space suit could have its own HP! Low! So attacks would be really scary, they would threaten both the space suit and the player equally.

    My original idea which would be more in line with 5e default would be to make puncture saves an on-hit trigger. So each hit threatened the player and had a chance to harm the space suit.
  • Wow, Sandra! Lots of text here. I'll be back to sort through it. We're clearly not seeing eye-to-eye here, and I'm not sure how to explain things better, but I'll try tomorrow.

    Meanwhile:

    My original idea which would be more in line with 5e default would be to make puncture saves an on-hit trigger. So each hit threatened the player and had a chance to harm the space suit.
    You don't find this weird, though?

    I mean, the high HP character can just dodge all the hits thrown at him, no problem. I can swing a sword at him 20 times, and never touch him.

    But put him in a spacesuit, and suddenly he gets hit every time there's a successful attack roll! Even just one successful attack and I could totally ruin his day...

  • edited July 2016
    Yeah, I'm super busy today too :D
    So I appreciate the respite :D
    But put him in a spacesuit, and suddenly he gets hit every time there's a successful attack roll! Even just one successful attack and I could totally ruin his day...
    It's like when you have a clumsy backpack and you, your body, can dodge someone in a crowded aisle but the backpack gets hit.

    But I came up with the "space suit have HP" hack instead, I liked that even better.
  • edited July 2016
    As for your play examples, they are (to me) exactly what I'm trying NOT to have. I mean, I've played D&D like that, and it was fun. But with this hack, I'm going for something very, very different.

    Notice how those descriptions in your examples are all very vague and abstract? Well, that's been put on you by the system. Try to get more concrete and it fights you. With this thing I'm going for, it's the very opposite.

    They also highlight the hit point weirdness I was talking about before: high-HP characters have absolutely no problem dodging a good number of polearm clobberings, or flying arrows, but those flying-brain-zappers, somehow they can't dodge those as well.

    (E.g. If I have 50 hit points, I know that I can "dodge" about 10 arrows no problem before I'm in any danger. However, if they are attacks which have an "on-hit" trigger or use saves, suddenly I have no more immunity at all - we're operating on an entirely different paradigm, where I could fall with the first hit or I could theoretically dodge an infinite number of them - which I can't do with the arrows - for no apparent reason. Now, again, of course we can rationalize this in play. I've played D&D for years and we all did it very successfully. But I'm tired of that now; I want cleaner, more elegant design which doesn't require that I rationalize system oddities away when I'm playing.)
  • (How would the space suit HP work? It sounds like a good idea... except that we're right back to this thing where suddenly a character who normally effortless dodges everything can't anymore. Maybe your vision of the spacesuit is clumsy and with a backpack, but the rules won't function any differently if we say our spacesuits are sleek and mobile - in fact, far more so than a suit of chain mail.)
  • edited July 2016
    Hey, maybe an example from the player's perspective would help. You're playing with a GM/group which is getting really lazy with the narrative details.

    Example 1

    You're playing D&D. The DM says to you:

    "Ok, it's the ogre's turn." *clatter clatter* "The ogre hits you for 9 points of damage. What do you do?"

    My guess is that you mark off the hit points and announce your next action. Yes?

    Notable in this example is that the only thing we have said so far about the fictional events themselves is that "the ogre hits you"... and even that isn't true. (Or isn't necessarily true, depending on how we're parsing the whole hit points thing.)

    Example 2

    We're playing something like Dungeon World with "descriptive harm".

    *clatter clatter*

    The MC says: "Ok, you missed that roll. The ogre hits you. Do you want to resist harm?"

    What's your natural response? You look down at the move and you see that you have to decide how many hit points to spend. Hmmm!

    What do you say?
  • edited July 2016
    Please give some more examples from your hack

    I'm already satisfied with "my vision", I like how it can handle deep tactics quickly (4 guards attacking with halberds in one roll) and can still cause zoomed in moments when something really matters.
    Like in the ogre case, I could respond in many ways. For example: "I'm knocked unconscious!"
  • That ogre example from your hack wasn't very detailed either
    It doesn't seem any better
  • edited July 2016
    That's because it's incomplete. Imagine you're that player - what's the next sentence out of your mouth? What do you say, what do you ask?

    (As an aside, I have no idea why you said, "I'm knocked unconscious!", above. Why would anyone do that, in D&D or Dungeon World? It's not even really in the player's purview - they only fall unconscious when certain mechanical conditions are met, like 0 hit points or whatever. For the sake of this example, assume that the character has enough hit points remaining to survive.)
  • The sentence "Ok, you missed that roll. The ogre hits you. Do you want to resist harm?" tells me less than the 9 points sentence do.
    That's sort of the point... you thought the webbed-guards-with-halberds example was low info? It even details how dangerous they are, exactly how scary they are, exactly, quantified to the nearest digit, how tiring it is to fight them.

    You missed that roll. The ogre hits you. Do you want to resist harm?
    No? or Yes?
    Those are the only two options, I guess? I have no context for what's going on, for what's at stake, for what I have to do. I also don't understand what resisting harm means diegetically -- I understand that it does mean something in the "dice" world, to roll to resist harm and then later to roll to recover.

    Whereas at my table... "Oh, shit, she can that easily meet my AC? and I lose nineHP? Folks, maybe it's time for us to run!"
    or
    "Nine? That's all? OK, I don't have to waste slots on this sucker, conserve your arrows and crossbow bolts, folks, I've got this!"

    The hack is sort of the worst of both worlds.
    In Dungeon World, it's all about the positioning. You narrate in detail your footing, your movement, your attacks, your aspirations, your advantages, you get separated, your gear breaks, the club comes bearing down on you -- what do you do?

    In D&D, it's quantified, strict, you know what you've got and what it costs to stay in the fight, every fight is mechanically different and you change as you grow more experienced and the fates smile evermore on you.

    In the hack... where's the agency? Where's the narration/description? Show it!
    The example -- even more so now that you doubled down on it -- is as cold and mechanical and disassociated as D&D as its worst and visionlessest, and as vague and subjective and DM-whim-ruled as DW at its worst and flummiest.

    OMG how harsh I sound now, and against one of my favorite posters no less -- but I'm not saying this is inherently the case with the hack. It's the example I'm criticizing, not your design chops. I'm just saying: Show me how the hack can work, show me how it can fly -- or go back to the drawing board.


    I was proud over the halberd-fight because how it summarized so much so concisely. In accordance with the "all fun and games until someone falls down" ideal. Footing, hope, will to live, luck, fatigue, tiredness, braveness -- all rolled up in a couple of numbers.

    Similarly, with: "Ok, it's the ogre's turn." *clatter clatter* "The ogre hits you for 9 points of damage. What do you do?"
    I know what's going on. The ogre is causing me quantifiable distress.
    [Concession: the whole "it's our turn, it's the monsters turn, it's our turn" -- that sucks and all my efforts to the contrary, that's something that has re-reared its ugly head time and time again at our table. But that's a complete side discussion compared to the question of how the ogre's attack itself is narrated.]

    [Also concession: terminology: the whole "hits you for" and that HP loss is still called "damage", that's very hard to shake. At our table, we have done a reasonable job, and have kept it at bay somewhat (not perfect) but at that point it's drifted pretty far from mainstream D&D play -- however, the hack is in a bit of a glass house in this regard, retaining some of the more confusing terminology. + it's no big deal. It is damage -- to fatigue, to luck, to hope.]

    So what do I say, what's the next sentence? No I guess? Or Yes?
  • edited July 2016
    (accidental double post)
  • edited July 2016
    Sorry, Sandra, if you're finding this frustrating. You see, that was precisely the point I was trying to make:

    If the GM doesn't describe the action, you *can't* make your decision. You must decide:

    * Will I resist harm? (Optionally; as written, you'd always do so - either works)
    * How many hit points do I spend?
    * Which options do I choose?

    *None* of those things - not a single one - make any sense at all until you know exactly what's happening.

    This means that, for the game to go on, the player must then go:

    "Well, how did the ogre hit me? Where? Did it hurt?"

    If the ogre slapped me with a wet noodle, I'm not going to waste my time or spend my hit points. If he stabbed me with a spear, I'd still want to ask, "Where? How deep? Does it look bad? Is it a big spear or a little spear?"

    In the D&D example, we subtract 9 hit points, and we're ready to move on. Next thing! I could ask for more detail, but not only is it redundant but it could even screw things (since, as I've shown, digging for more details causes inconsistencies to appear).

    Here, we literally cannot move forward without describing - and in some detail - what's happening. The players have every incentive to describe things, and to ask for others to describe in more detail, as well.

    That's why we'll never have any of that D&D-esque ambiguity about whether someone was hit or not, whether they were injured or not, etc, etc.

    So the hack supports a very "live", dynamic, heavily descriptive way of playing, much like Dungeon World does... up until we get to the hit points thing. I tried to build in that same approach to playing to the "getting hurt" phase.

    It's precisely the thing Vincent was talking about in his article on "with teeth".

    The design funnels you quite naturally into a very descriptive mode where we create rich fiction, detailed and tangible. We can't play without doing that - if we accidentally forget, the system prompts us right back into it.

    On a sidenote, I also think it contributes more detail on the 'other end' of the process:

    There's also the flexibility of the whole thing, which makes it very economical, which I enjoy. For instance, let's say I have a flying brain which zaps people with a paralysis ray. In D&D, we have to make up new rules for that, and then reference them and follow them. We sometimes get weirdness, like how come it's easier to dodge something which deals hp damage than something which takes a saving throw, unless your luck is running low and you've been fighting for a while, in which case it's easier to dodge something which takes a saving throw... but I suppose that's not the end of the world.

    But look here, with this hack:

    As GM, all I have to do is describe a paralysis ray and how it hits the character and makes them feel all tingly (or whatever).

    Then we roll the "resist harm", and we find out, say, that it paralyzes them for a moment, but then they can shake it off for now - however, it will affect them after the fight's over. Now the character shakes it off and finishes the fight. After, as the adrenaline wears off, they find themselves losing feeling and going numb...

    We feed them some magical stimulant and roll to "recover". They make a full recovery, perhaps, or, on a 7-9, it's only partial: ok, you can move about freely now, but your left leg still isn't working quite right.

    To me, that's a big draw. I've got all this rich fictional detail without anyone having had to make up any new rules! I like that in my gaming.

    I hope this helps you understand the hack! If not, fire ahead with more questions.

  • Please don't use your own hack sarcastically or rhetorically when I ask for examples
    Please don't trick me
    It was really confusing and frustating
    Show how it is when it sings instead

    Please don't overstate the "inconsistencies" when you dig for detail -- this has not been agreed upon
    Rather
    The opposite
    The hack vs "vision", they're very similar
    Can be used much the same

    Hack has less detail, hooks, things to build on
    Ogre hits you
    Roll to resist harm (spend 4)
    Roll to recover harm (spend 4)
    There is no teeth
    It's just a rote procedure


    Ogre hits for 9: ok, there's a lack of right-facing arrows (in dice/cloud terms) but there is emotion there. I care about that 9. It tells me something

    My hero can still live, can still work… but the reality that one day, my luck won't last… that has taken nine steps closer to me
  • Paralysis brain beam:
    In D&D: it's trying to zap you -- save yourself! Make saving throw -- phew, you made it!
    And, no exception rule… is rule! Saving throw old school

    In hack -- roll defy danger+dex. Then roll resist harm+4. Then roll recover harm+4
    1. Rote, "sheet first" play. No teeth.
    2. Slow -- Many rolls for one blow
    3. GM whim rules. Why is leg numb? Why not shoulder? Why not tongue?
    4. Too action hero, ignoring wounds
  • edited July 2016
    Sandra,

    I wasn't trying to "trick" you. Sorry if it came across that way! I thought my example would put you in the mindset of the player, which quite naturally leads to asking, "Well, where did I get hit? How hard? With what kind of weapon" (Or some variation thereof, depending on what you, particularly, are concerned about.)

    As for the "inconsistencies", I thought you agreed that the various examples we've discussed (like the president's assassination) are problematic? In any case, I can very safely say that *for me* they were a constant bother when I played D&D. Enough that I quite playing my favourite game! I'm pretty sure I would never have sought out other RPGs if this didn't come up in our D&D games, over and over again.

    When it comes to the paralysis beam example, what I was trying to show was the flexibility of this simple rule. In D&D, you must have special rules for a paralysis beam - its effects, how we determine whether it hits, and how we determine whether it takes effect. For example, we might use a saving throw instead of a to-hit roll. A fireball might have a different rule, and a dragon's breath yet another rule, and so on. We can use these rules for all kinds of things, though, zooming in and out, including mental illness or some kind of curse.

    (And that's another example of something that bothered me: if I use my AC to dodge an arrow, but my saving throw to dodge a paralysis beam, what do we do if it's an arrow which is made of a piece of a paralysis beam? There's no consistent solution to this kind of thing. I still love (old-school) D&D for a basic dungeon crawl, where these aren't important issues so long as we can agree on a ruling and stick to it, but in other forms of gaming it ruins things for me completely.)

    Now, when it comes to your other comments, you might have to rephrase them, because you've lost me completely. For instance, why is it that you feel "emotion" at losing 9 hit points (D&D hit points), but not when you spend the same 9 hit points on a "resist harm" roll? They seem pretty much the same to me - if you're moved by the idea that your luck is running out, it's the same either way, no? Your reserve is running down, and you know eventually you'll be left without any.

    Your comments about a lack of hooks and detail to build on are completely baffling to me! I feel like I've been demonstrating in example after example how that is precisely the opposite of the case.

    Back to the ogre example: in D&D, when we make our combat rolls, we establish firmly that some fighting has taken place, and that the ogre has done *something* active which has caused our hero's "luck reserve" to diminish. Other than that, we know *nothing*.

    Using a hack like this one, we simply cannot follow through the procedure without establishing how the ogre is attacking, with what weapon, where he hit the hero, and how hard. Then the system gives us an output in terms of what effect the injury has on the hero, which we can use to build more detail about the circumstances. This means that we *will* know precisely whether or not the ogre has hit the hero, where, with what weapon, whether the hero was knocked back or incapacitated or took it like a champ, etc, etc.

    (An obvious example: hero is charging towards a door, trying to escape from the room, and he is hit by the ogre. In D&D, all we know is that the "luck reserve" has been reduced. In this hack, we know whether his "momentum or position is maintained", telling us whether he can barrel through this injury or he's knocked flat on his ass somehow (again, the description of the attack will give us the specifics here), so we know whether he reaches that door or not. (I know some versions of D&D have special rules for being knocked prone if dealt a certain amount of damage and stuff like that - but now again we have the problem of reconciling "knocked prone" with "I thought losing hit points meant you dodged the attack?"))

    All these things add to the flavour and the description of the imaginary scene taking place.

    Your objections:

    In hack -- roll defy danger+dex. Then roll resist harm+4. Then roll recover harm+4
    1. Rote, "sheet first" play. No teeth.
    2. Slow -- Many rolls for one blow
    3. GM whim rules. Why is leg numb? Why not shoulder? Why not tongue?
    4. Too action hero, ignoring wounds
    1. This has lost me entirely. Didn't I just demonstrate that you *cannot* play this "sheet first"? It simply doesn't work like that - you need vivid description for it to function at all.
    2. This is a very fair criticism - it's definitely slower, and quite intentionally so. It's supposed to add detail to help us imagine what's going on, instead of skipping through it. I wouldn't use this hack in any game where someone gets hit five times in every single fight, for example.
    3. This is also fair. The goal of the hack is not convenience or speed, nor is it fair adjudication. It is, rather, focused on description, a rich fiction, and detailed "colour". It frees up the players to add a great deal of detail to what's happening in play and then gives that "teeth". You lose a bit of objectivity, but it frees you up to follow your imagination and trust that the system can handle that, much like AW moves do.
    4. Also fair! But that's as intended (and also true of D&D - neither ruleset is exactly a gritty and realistic approach to the effects of wounds on a combatant!).

    For example, why was the person's leg still numb after the paralysis? Well, we would have established that the paralysis ray hit them in the leg, or something similar - we follow the fiction and its logic. (And that, again, is why we'd have to establish details. I'm not going to spend the full 4 hit points until I know where I'm hit - for example, if my survival depends on me being able to run away, I need full use of my legs, but I might decide I can handle a paralyzed arm under the current circumstances without a problem.)

    I hope that helps! I'm really at a loss as to how I can explain this any differently, but feel free to ask more questions.
  • edited July 2016
    Problems: I wouldn't exactly call something that's come up once (the dragon's eye) "constantly".
    Different rule: Saving throw is the normal rule and AC/HP is the special case. A special case that happens to be the most common, but a special and well-defined case none the less.

    Spend 9: Because you can't spend 9, you can only spend 4

    Ok, so here's my core argument:
    Where are the descriptions, where are the hooks for the description coming from? From the SIS I gather -- but that's a big copout. The hack doesn't contribute.
    You say you've given examples… did you mean the space suit one?
    Your biggest example was one that you left deliberately sparse; that's not an example of the hack working as intended. Give me examples of how the hack helps you.

    Here's my brain on this:
    DM: An ogre is coming towards you, its club is bearing down on you
    Player A: Help help!
    Player B: I'm busy working on the locks!
    DM: It smashes you into bone powder. Roll resist harm
    Player A: Ok I spend 4. Phew, no problem, got a 14.
    Players and DM: now what happens?

    Are you living bone powder? Player B keeps you in a jar?

    Listen, in Dice&Clouds terms, D&D has too high proportion of left-facing arrows (ideally there should be a mix) but at least there are a lot of arrows! So far, what I've seen of the hack, there's a high degree of disconnect/disassociation.

    In D&D:
    DM: An ogre is coming towards you, its club is bearing down on you
    Player A: help, help!
    Player B: I'm busy working on the locks
    Hook number one: DMs, you can't just deal out harm, make a roll
    If player win:
    DM: Your shield protected you against the club!
    If ogre win:
    Hook number two: DMs, you can't just crush them into bone powder, look at the damage stat
    DM: lose 9 HP
    Player: Oh, I only had 7
    DM: Ok, everything goes black as the club hits you, make death saves
    Player: I fail the first one
    DM: And since it's next to you, it can give you two automatic failures as it smashes you a second time. You are smashed into bone powder
    DM hands 4d6 and scrap paper to the player.

    Or:
    Player: Oh, I have 93 HP left. 9 damage though, for one attack? The ogre horde is a serious threat if all of them get in here at once
    DM: you get tired fending off the ogre!
    Player: I throw a couple of eldritch blasts in its direction and it's hexed
    Player rolls dice
    Player: does 46 damage take care of it?
    DM: no! It laughs at your puny efforts!
    Player: gulp!
  • I suppose there is a missing piece of advice - this is an IIEE thing, I suppose. I thought it was obvious, but perhaps I should have spelled it out:

    You, as the GM, do not narrate Effect. (That's what you did in your example, above, and why it ends up sounding dumb.) You stop your description at Execution. However, you must provide sufficient detail for the player to get a sense of the possible Effect, or the player doesn't know what to do. The player will therefore rightly ask you for more detail, which is how the hack "provides" descriptive richness.

    Then we roll the dice, and that's when Effect is established.

    So, example time:

    GM: An ogre is approaching you, swinging a mace and an axe!
    Player: [some sequence of events which ends with him getting hit - like failing a Defy Danger roll or just sitting there and not doing anything, or whatever]
    The GM now consults what she knows of the fiction and narrates what seems like a most likely/believable attack on the PC: "While you're fiddling with the locks, the ogre brings down his weapon on your left shoulder!"

    (As a sidenote, having the ogre attack and then "miss" or "bounce off the character's shield" - an obstacle the ogre could see the whole time, and which the character isn't using to defend himself - is a perfect example of the kind of thing which would come up all the time when I played D&D and drive me bonkers. How the hell did this stupid ogre not, you know, aim at an exposed body part? Especially considering that a "combat round" should be more than enough time for the ogre to batter this poor sod into dirt, not
    ineffectively bang against his shield.)


    Anyway, the player must now decide what to do. It's a pretty tense situation, and he doesn't have a ton of hit points to spare, so he will quite naturally ask the GM some questions. "Wait! Is the ogre attacking me with the mace or the axe? In other words, am I facing the potential of broken bones or an amputated arm?" "Is this a glancing blow, or a solid hit?" And so on.

    In the process, we'll establish a good deal of detail about the attack and what it looks like. Let's say the GM says that the ogre is swinging his mace into the character from above, with all his strength behind it. ("How strong is an ogre, anyway?" "Oh, a blow like this could easily shatter shields and crush bones!")

    Ok, now the player is ready to roll. He spends some hit points (probably as many as he can, unless he wants to save some for the recovery roll, which would be a safer bet). Let's say he rolls a 9. His options, now:

    1. He can choose to react immediately, acting decisively (maybe to get out of there, or open the lock after all? the character certainly wants to do *something*). However, then his shoulder/arm will be crushed, broken, and effectively out of commission. (We can easily agree that the arm being useless now AND later means it's probably broken, or something similar.)
    2. He can choose "the wound doesn't hamper me for now" - this means that he is knocked off-balance and definitely doesn't get to carry through the lock-picking, but the arm is still temporarily functional. However, after the adrenaline of the fight wears off, it won't be working very well. We can read this in different ways, but maybe it's a less severe break, so the arm still works up until it swells up? We work together to establish something like that, when the fight is over (likely just a GM narration).
    3. He can choose "you got lucky; you find out later that it wasn't as big a deal as it seemed". This tells us that the blow was heavy enough to cost him his "momentum or position" (perhaps this means he is knocked clean away from the door altogether), and temporarily useless. Again, we narrate some detail here: perhaps the arm is numbed or dislocated, but after the fight we know this will wear off - which tells us that it's not broken! The blow glanced off his armour, or he managed to turn so as to minimize the damage, or something similar.

    All these options have clear implications for what the damage looks like, how it affects the victim in the moment, and what state the character will be in after the fight. (At which point we can also pull in the recovery move to get more detail - a failure there indicates it was definitely a major break, whereas a full success might mean it can be pretty easily patched up.)

    It all shows that just sitting there and letting the ogre hit you is not a terribly good idea.

    (Another perfect example of how D&D's rules often create weirdness for me: I have to engage in some kind of bizarre mental gymnastics to figure out how a defenseless man picking a lock manages NOT to get hurt by an ogre swinging a massive weapon at him for a decent period of time. And that's a pretty regular occurence, in my experience.)

    Contrast that to D&D, where we might say, "Ok, mark off 9 hit points!" If we wish to get more information, first of all there is no incentive to do so, and, second, most of the things which seem logical will flat-out contradict what the system is telling us. (Like the ogre's attack bouncing off his shield, or hitting him but not hurting him - all have weird implications which we don't want to reliably hold true. For instance, if we set the precedent that it DOES mean a hit, that gets us in trouble with any situation where any kind of hit at all would be meaningful - such as poison, magical effects, sharp objects against fragile unarmoured targets, a duel to first blood, etc, etc.)

    Again, I don't find that kind of thing *impossible* to resolve - of course we can, especially if we're willing to back up to an abstraction (as in your example, where we mark off the 9 hit points and just collectively take in the weight of the implied threat, despite an unchanged fictional situation). I just find it relatively uninspiring in terms of lacking fictional content, awkward for determining details (as with a poisoned arrow, or if it matters in the next scene whether the character has a visible wound or not), and difficult mentally because I have to jump through these hoops to make sure I don't violate some aspect of the rules with my narration.

    Does this example help illustrate the rules in action?
  • The sidenotes end up being all I want to talk about all the time… like how obv the ogre isn't slipping around on banana peels, the PC actively thwarted the attack, with a shield or with dodging.
    And also it is not significantly hurting the PC beyond what they can recover in one night. Poison with effects, space suits etc we've solved them already. We're going in circles. So it can't be a hard smash. The PC and the ogre arre fighting, each struggling to land a killing blow on the other. And what is a kiling or lingeringly injuring blow is determined by AC/HP. Until that happens it doesn't happen.

    Now, you want the ogre to be able to overcome shields?
    Higher strength on the ogre will accomplish just that. Smashing harder = harder to dodge.
    Now, you want the ogre's blows to be more likely to be fight-endingly hard? Higher hp loss for the attacks will accomplish just that.
    It's countable, measurable, tangible.
    Uninspiring? Sure, but a lot more than the hack, which is all the same all the time.
    And… the default when you have a shield on, is that you defend yourself. (Being incapacitated is a special condition in 5e.) Similar to the Instincts in BW. In DW, otoh, with it's "to do it, do it" roots, you have to actively try to not get hurt, but you're handwaving that part in your examples which is confusing me -- and I take that as it's taxing to come up with creative, interesting ways to defend yourself.

    But back to the main story, about the hack:
    How is the mechanic helping?
    It's not filling a purpose, it seems.

    If the resist/recover rolls are impactful, why even bother with things like axe vs mace, it's all leading to the same mechanic anyway?
    And if the mechanic is not impactful, why even have it? If it's all SIS based anyway? The ogre chop you, you're chopped. The ogre smashes you, you're smashed.

    Or if it's a mix, how is the mix not weird? "The chopped arm works for now. Later, it falls off."

    The extreme degree of power this system moves from gloracle to DM reminds me of the "crocodile story":
    Back when I was running no rules, no dice, all SIS, I had a giant, superbig, dire crocodile guarding a well. One player ran up to it. Fine, I said. "It kills you.

    Nuh-uh!

    Ok, then, it bites your arm off.

    Nope, can't have that!

    Ok, it tries to bite your arm of, it's gonna leave a scar.

    Fine."

    I don't want to go back to that. So that's problem number one. The hack disempowers the gloracle too much.
    Secondly, it's got that "putting people on the spot to be creative" thing that plagues many indie games. It's easy to be a boring player in DW and suck out all the fun and variety from the game. "Ogre chops at you" "I jump out of the way and roll defy danger" "Ogre smashes at you" "I jump out of the way and roll defy danger" "Ogre tries to catch you" "I jump out of the way and roll defy danger".

    See, this is why I was so proud of the halberd guards example: all of the boring, business-as-usual, I-do-my-default-move of fights? D&D allows you to do that quickly, rolling a bunch of dice. And when there are interesting moves, you zoom in.
    It's like the clang clang clang two clangs per second in a swashbuckling or chanbara movie, they go by quickly and then -- someone's taken out. And if you want to do interesting things, like first shoving them down and then getting advantage on the second attack, there's room for that and the game affords and creates such moments.
    In DW, you have to bring the awesome, in D&D, there's room for the awesome you bring but sometimes awesome just happens.
  • edited July 2016
    (Ah, I misread your earlier example. I thought it was the character who was under attack who said, "No, I'm busy picking the locks." Hope that helps explain why no one's defending themselves in my example, and why it made no sense to me!)

    Does the hack "disempower the gloracle"? Well, yes - in the same way that AW and DW do. That's not a surprise, and I've mentioned it a few times myself.

    However, I don't see how it's the same as a "Crocodile" situation. It very explicitly empowers the MC/GM to narrate whatever attack they feel is appropriate - there are no "takebacks". I say the ogre brings down his mace on your head, you blow the "resist" roll, you're dead.

    If you don't like detailed fiction, making judgement calls, and "being on the spot to be creative", you won't like this hack (as, indeed, it seems you do not). If you like all those things, however, it supports that style of play very well.

    I think you're trying to read it is a "rules-first" mechanic, when it's more of a "read the fiction and adjudicate results from there" mechanic.

    For the record, I still have no idea how to solve the poisoned arrows with effects and space suits dilemmas in a way that's consistent - *unless* all I care about are the game's abstractions, which, as I said before, is totally fine, but a very different kind of game. (For instance, I can accept that a magical arrow requires a saving throw, while a mundane one costs me hit points, but I have no idea what that means diegetically.) I want the fiction itself to be detailed and vivid; I want the descriptions to matter.

    But back to the main story, about the hack:
    How is the mechanic helping?
    It's not filling a purpose, it seems.

    If the resist/recover rolls are impactful, why even bother with things like axe vs mace, it's all leading to the same mechanic anyway?
    And if the mechanic is not impactful, why even have it? If it's all SIS based anyway? The ogre chop you, you're chopped. The ogre smashes you, you're smashed.

    Or if it's a mix, how is the mix not weird? "The chopped arm works for now. Later, it falls off."
    How is the mechanic helping? It leads us to describe the fiction in detail, and that gives us more prompts for the parts we care about, for an interesting (at least to me, and clearly many of the readers of this thread) middle ground between mechanical objectivity and creative story-telling.

    Why bother with axe vs. mace? Because it *matters*. A broken arm has completely different implications to a sliced arm or a pierced lung. Maybe I don't mind a broken bone because we have the ability to set that, but an open wound is terrifying, since there are airborne spore parasites in this part of the dungeon. All that kind of stuff.

    Why have it at all? To have just enough "gloracle" so we don't have a "crocodile story" situation: there is never any ambiguity about whether the GM can narrate an infected wound, someone knocked off-balance, a character being incapacitated by pain, etc.

    "How is the mix not weird?" This part I don't understand. I would never say, "The chopped arm works for now. Later, it falls off," because that doesn't make any sense. We have to go with believable fictional outcomes first and foremost. The moves and options constrain our options for narration until the specifics are narrowed down to a fairly concrete area.

    For instance, in the "crocodile story", I would narrate as hard and aggressive an attack as befit the situation. Perhaps that means the crocodile chomps down on your whole arm. Has the arm been bitten off? We don't know yet; I don't narrate Effect. Instead, we roll the move and we see: on a failure, I'm well within my rights to say it's been bitten off, and if that's what my instincts say, I go with that. If you roll a hit (especially the "you got lucky" option), it makes no sense to narrate that, so you get to keep your arm.

    Like everything in *World games, it's not 100% objective and clear like a boardgame-style D&D rule. Rather, it's creating a space for us to create a rich, developing fictional space while following our instincts. It's a fundamentally different kind of gaming. Instead of clear, black-and-white rules, we have moves and principles which present us with creative constraints (while preserving PC agency) which we then colour in with narration.

    AW can never tell you whether someone's hand gets chopped off or not; it's just not like D&D that way. What these rules do, instead, is help you build a vivid, detailed fiction, and then allow you to make calls within that framework in a way which produces fun gaming. It's not a boardgame - it's a roleplaying conversation.
  • Ok, so what I'm wondering at this point is what it adds over the crocodile situation. As a mechanic, it seems so posthoc. It clashes with to do it, do it -- "whoops, turns out the axe chop was pretty easily resisted after all" yet it relies on it in order to get any differentiation between dangers.

    If you were talking to someone who was already sold on AW/DW (as much as this thread is changing that for me, unselling me), what does the hack add?
    From my perspective, it just creates a "hard to make fit" extra couple of rolls/outcomes.
    The main protection the players have in DW from "the crocodile situation" is Defy Danger itself. And that can be made to make sense. It limits how hard moves the GM can make as a consequence.
    It's not as post-hoc as "resist harm" now comes across.
  • edited July 2016
    Obv the lingering injuries table in 5e is pure post hoc. "You've survived, but what are the consequences"

    The hack is similarly encouraging me to hold off on describing too carefully, lest a resist or recover roll will cause dissonance.

    The problem is that DW needs (due to right-facing arrows) description up front to work, so there's a clash, whereas the boardgamey nature (left-facing arrows) of D&D will create explanations and flavor for you.
  • Ok, so what I'm wondering at this point is what it adds over the crocodile situation.
    It takes away the awkward/unproductive social negotiation, and gives the player a mechanical way (hit points) to advocate for a certain outcome without blocking ("nuh uh it doesn't!").

  • But does it really?
    The social negation / danger of the situation, needs to be handled already at the preceding moves stage. The DM can't just start it out with ten thousand ogres or (in my case) an instakilling crocodile, future badness needs to have been announced.

    So ok, that part is offloaded to vanilla DW.

    Then, the mechanical way to argue for an outcome--that's A. got the mathematical issue that I and Aviatrix have pointed out (you always spend 4), and B. got the post-hoc nature causing the weirdness that Paul criticized in other systems.

    Finally, how is it not blocking? That axe that chopped of the hand? That was just a scratch after all, sorry! And later it turned out to be a pretty serious scratch.
    Things that seem logical contradict what the system is telling us.
  • Ok:

    These rules give you an objective ("gloracle") way of telling us what the consequences of injury are and when they affect the character, so we no longer need to worry about that. The system tells us that.

    This, in turn, allows us (and incentivizes us!) to describe harm and injury in narrative detail. As the MC, I don't have to worry about "balance" or about what is "fair"; I simply narrate what the fiction looks like, in my mind's eye. This is tremendously freeing, compared to playing freeform!

    It all brings us forward to focusing on the fictional events, instead of juggling numbers. Then the harm moves create agreement on the effects of those fictional details. For instance, I can say that you're bleeding, and your recovery roll tells us whether it will stop on its own or needs medical aid. I can say that the log smashes into your midsection, and the roll tells us whether you can "roll with the punches" or whether it takes the wind out of you. And so on.

    I don't see the post-hoc problems you're describing, no how it is "blocking". When the GM describes your character getting hit, that has happened. There is no blocking or take-backs. Characters with hit points are just pretty resilient, that's all: they can be bruised or bleeding and just keep coming.

    As I described earlier, it solves all those weird edge cases we get in regular hit point systems (like being invincible, or getting nickel and dimed to death by someone poking you in the shin with a needle).

    I think the issue might be your vision of what D&D hit points do/are. The way you play, no one gets hurt until the hit points run out. This is simply not the case in these rules: at best, you'll be knocked off your feet with your head spinning (with those rare 13+ rolls being the exception).

    The way most people play D&D, hit points mean that you get hit but you just keep on coming! That vision is a good fit for these rules; although getting hit almost always means *something* bad, it's not just "cosmetic" as with D&D hit points.

    The mathematical breakpoint may be an issue, true. We've already discussed a number of solutions (also, keep in mind that characters won't have enough hit points to simply spend +4 over and over), and it remains to be seen if it's an issue in play. It's possible that human psychology will deal with this just fine. I haven't put in enough hours with this hack to be sure - maybe someone else has! I'm still thinking about it, in any case.
  • edited July 2016
    Yeah, if it weren't for the mathematical issue I don't think I would've joined the thread, that's an area where I saw I really could contribute.


    But can you give me some clear examples of how it works when it sings, the hack?
    You can describe the attacks in detail in a way that's much freeer than freeform? How?
    And what is the narrative/descriptive "input" to the damage rolls?

    I understand the principle in DW that in order to best do "Separate them" or "Destroy their gear" or "Deal harm" you as MC want to know as much as you can about the fictional positioning.
    I just don't see that connection here as easily, perhaps because there isn't a list of "harm moves".

    1. Let's say the GM describes the crocodile chomping hard on with all its might on the arm, tearing it off. Now roll resist harm. What happens on a 10+ result?

    2. Let's say the GM describes the ogre smashing down with all its might and weight with a super heavy club on the hapless PC. The equivalent of dropping 300 kg / 600 pound weight on their heads. Now roll resist harm. What happens on a 10+ result?

    3. Let's say the assassin that cannot miss, uses a magical bullet, laced with strong poison for the weak, and a rifle that never ever misses, shoots the local orc president princess (a PC) right in the head. Now roll resist harm. What happens on a 10+ result?

    4. Let's say the space suit is all that protects you from the mindflayer-infested vacuum of aetherspace. If the air gets sucked out you're a goner. And someone chops a scimitar at your arm. Now roll resist harm. What happens on a 10+ result?

    5. Let's say the village hero, destined to kill the dragon, fires an ordinary arrow from an ordinary bow with an ordinary shot -- but with all his hope and faith -- right at the eye of a dragon. The village hero rolls a 3 on his Volley roll. What happens?

    6. Let's say some living brains are flying around, zapping people with paralyzation rays, and someone gets zapped, flubbing their defy danger roll. They roll a 10+ result on resist harm. What happens?

    7. Let's say four guards stuck in a web spell are chopping at a PC soldier with halberds, well within reach. The soldier rolls a 7-9 on hack & slash. What happens?

  • edited July 2016
    I'm adamant on the not spending 1, 2, or 3 thing; you're pretty much throwing your points away if you do. Especially if points are scarce.

    With 4 spent, a 10+ is around 72% likely.
  • edited July 2016
    I think part of the problem here is that you think you've explained these examples, but you haven't.
    And you think "2097 is smart and creative, she can answer these herself easily", but I can't. I could answer them but it's a significant challenge especially given dozens or hundreds or so similar situations come up every night.

    (Yeah, we probably make a little over a hundred or so attack rolls per night.)

    I haven't selected these to be rhetorical, I want to see the examples, I want to be sold on the hack or at least understand/appreciate the hack. The examples do seem difficult to answer.

    In D&D:
    1. Some monsters might have a special ability (similar to custom move in DW) that can cause instant arm tearing. Otherwise, the DM can't create this situation until the player has gone to zero. Then we'll see on the injury table what (if anything) was torn off, which is very possible but completely post-hoc.

    2. The player dodges the club (by AC, or HP) or dies! It might take a couple of smashes

    3. Use some magic similar to Power Word Kill

    4. Use "space suit has its own HP pool" suggestion from before

    5. This was the one time it was tricky. I guess don't put in destiny stuff in the game, lesson learned.

    6. Saving throw!

    7. A normal AC / HP situation. Since it's so rote and boring we can roll eight rolls at a time with eight d20, and it stops being rote as soon as someone goes down.


    In the hack:
    1. I have honestly no idea. I'm guessing that the player loses the arm even though there was a 10+ roll? Or that the hack is incapable of creating arm-tearing-off-situations without a custom move? Or that there is a post-hoc "ok, looks like the arm wasn't torn off after all"? Or that you have to be quick as heck and start doing the resist-harm-rolls in the milliseconds the crocodile is doing the tearing?

    D&D is unabashedly handwavy and post-hoc here. How is the hack not?

    2. I have honestly no idea. I don't know -- and kinda don't want to know -- enough about head injuries to even start guessing.

    3. ...? What happens!? See 2, head injuries. Rifle bullets. But also poison now.

    4. This one seems pretty straighforward. You die in the mind eatingly vacuum of space even though your arm was only scratched from the scimitar. It's one hit one kill in the hack. (In many situations actually, not just in space, since "what happens, happens" every single flubbed defy danger or hack&slash is potentially instantly lethal.)

    5. Normal DW question not related to the hack. So I can skip it. Volley being hard to adjudicate well is nothing new.

    6. Whoops turns out that the paralyzation ray wasn't so paralyzing after all. Even though you defied danger poorly, there was an extra layer of safety with the resist harm roll.

    7. The PC gets chopped up, head fly off and needs to roll on resist harm to see if the head goes back on...?

    I just don't understand the hack. That's how far this goes.
    Let's say you select both
    "This injury doesn't hamper you, you can ignore it for now" and
    "You got lucky: you'll find later that the injury's not as big a deal as it seemed"
    The head flew off but you can ignore it from now and find later that it's not a big deal as it seemed?
  • edited July 2016
    OK, so I managed to come up with answers to some of them (4, 6 and 7) but at the game table I can't spend that much time all the time, and it was difficult to come up with answers. + The answers weren't any good! Head fly off?!

    + PS I'd rather see your honest attempts at answering 1-7 than reviewing my answers to 1-7.
  • " when his companions inspect him after the fight, it turns out that his mithril armour saved him." <- this is textbook post-hoc. Again, D&D is also post-hoc so I'm not saying games cannot use post-hoc.
  • edited July 2016
    Ok, excellent!

    First to address your last comment:

    I, personally, wouldn't use the "mithril saved him" type of thing in-game, because I also find it a bit post-hoc, as you like to say. However, it is a fun moment from a book everyone loves, and I wanted to show how it fits into this hack; some people really dig that kind of thing, and, if so, the hack allows them to do that in their game.

    Now, on to your questions/examples.

    Two important things here:

    1. First of all, many of these are really *World (AW/DW) questions, nothing to do with the hack. For instance, how do we handle the destined archery thing? Has nothing to do with our harm rules.

    What I would do is let the attack succeed (the dragon dies) but still play a hard move, and make it pretty hard-hitting - perhaps with in its last dying moments it destroys the whole village, or whatever thing seems appropriate. This way we feel the pain of the failure (making the die roll matter) even as we fulfill the character's destiny.

    If someone was destined to kill a PC... now that would be a mess! I can't think of a good way of handling that one off the top of my head, and probably would never do it in-game (at least not a game which quantifies damage and death!). If I had to, I'd probably throw together some weird thing like the character dying but then coming back to life, fulfilling both criteria. I like this kind of creative conundrum in my games, but obviously these rules aren't going to be terribly helpful, so we're on our own.

    It's really the "destined to X..." combined with an aleatoric resolution system which is the problem here, not any specific rules. You can't create an inviolable destiny and then expect dice to honour it!

    2. You refer to IIEE in your other thread, so I'm going to assume you're fluent with that terminology. If this makes no sense, back up and ask me more questions.

    In most of your problem cases, you're narrating Effect instead of stopping at Execution. Don't do that, and the problems vanish.

    It's a mental discipline thing, just like how we don't describe the effects of a hit in D&D until we roll the damage (or make the serious injury save). If you narrated someone's arm getting ripped off and then rolled a "1" on damage in D&D, you'd have the exact same problem.

    So, to use this hack, you narrate the execution of the attack, with enough clarity to show what kind of damage it *could* do, and then roll the move. The actual effects come *after* the roll.

    In D&D this looks like, "I swing my sword at the orc! And... *clatter clatter* I hit!" If you said, instead, "I swing my sword and I chop off the orc's head!", we'd have the same problem, where then we roll the damage and, if it's not enough, we have to go: "Uh, no. Actually you didn't. Not even close. He, uh, blocked it."

    In this hack we do the same thing, except we also narrate the attack effectively *connecting* with the target. ("You feel the sword cut into the flesh of his neck!") We do NOT narrate the effect on the target... not yet.

    In D&D, the Schrodinger situation is "did he hit the target?", and we don't really know until we've done all the other steps, like rolling damage and counting hit points and making death saves - then we can narrate accordingly. In your interpretation of D&D, we can't narrate a hit until we know that a certain amount of damage has been dealt AND it's more than the target has hit points remaining.

    In this hack, the Schrodinger part comes in just a touch later - yes, he definitely hit the target: the question now is, *how badly does it affect the target*? Is it just a graze, or did it do serious damage? That's what's hanging on the dice.

    The "resist harm" roll is just like the damage roll in D&D in this sense, except we never weasel out and retcon, saying no one got hit in the first place.

    That should answer 95% of your questions, but I'll go through the examples as well. (And this is actually great, because it's making us explore the ramifications of these rules, find corner cases, and I'm - hopefully - learning to explain them better. I'll also ask for your help with something, below...)
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