Sunday, January 30, 2011

Riddle Me This - Hit Points

So today I'm playing a little D&D with my son.  I just got in the Advanced Edition Companion so I'm feeling all retro - and his fighter Dennis gets knocked down to negative one for hit points.  It's been 20 odd years since I've read the dying rules, so I start digging through the AEC for the rules about bleeding from 0 HPs and they dying at -10 - but nothing.  Nowhere.  Hmm.

What the hell?  An AD&D emulator with no 'dying' emulation?  Was that not thought neccisary?  Just the old 0 HP and you are dead?

So my quesiton is - how do you handle hit points and dying?  Zero is death?  Negative ten?  Something else?  And why?

- Ark

16 comments:

  1. For my part, I house rule it. Fall down to 0 HP or less, and you have to roll on the injury table.

    2d3 - Result
    2 -- Knocked out.
    3 -- Light wound.
    4 -- Serious wound.
    5 -- Critical wound.
    6 -- Fatal wound.

    Wounds disable the player until magic is applied or some weeks of bed-rest allow for natural healing. They're also cumulative, so a character takes both a light wound and a critical wound (for example) is actually fatally wounded and dies.

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  2. I was always a fan of losing 1 hit point per round until -10 was reached. at any point along that death spiral, a PC could stabilize a dying comrade by spending a round binding is wounds.

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  3. You'd have to ask Dan Proctor directly about why AEC doesn't have that AD&D dying mechanic, but I think the dealio is that the AEC is really more of a Player's Handbook emulator (or whatever the precise term is) than a DMG emulator. That -10 rule is in the DMG p.82, but isn't mentioned anywhere (that I know of) in the PHB. On PHB p. 34, has it as "hit points represent how much damage ... a character can withstand before being killed." Period. There's no indication that you can have negative hit points or go unconscious in the rest of that section.

    That's my take, anyway. Overall the AEC doesn't carry over much of fiddliness of the DMG.

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  4. @J.D. - That's a pretty interesting mechanic. The bell curve there helps lessen the death threat, but also reduces the possibility that you'll get off lightly. I've never seen a 2d3 roll that I recall. Pretty neat. I assume there are more specifics on each wound level - as to how long recovery time is, etc?

    - Ark

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  5. @christian - I do like the "bleed till -10" system and think that 4e had an interesting spin on it with the three death saving throws after negative mechanic. I prefer the AD&D way to the 4e way, though. If I'm laying there dieing, I don't think I should be rolling dice. :)

    So how does 2e do the whole death thing?

    - Ark

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  6. When PCs drops to 0 or below, they are unconscious. Whether they die or not depends on what the monsters decide to do with them. In keeping with S&S fiction, they are often taken prisoner. Unless they are defeated by a hungry monster... chomp chomp.

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  7. Yep, AEC uses the core rule as from LL--0 hp and you're dead meat. Of course, you're welcome to house rule it!

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  8. @Spawn - You know, I forget that I'm connected to this Internet thing and I can actually ask people direct questions. Duh. I just popped off an email to Goblinoid. However, judging from the message further down on the list, and the very familiar icon, I think that I have an official answer. :)

    But yes, it does seem to be PHB oriented, with a chunk of the MM for beasites. The DMG inspired bits are the magical items and the race age rolling tables I think, but I haven't read it fully yet.

    - Ark

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  9. @Mr. Yark - I absolutely love that. It's so pulpy and the way I'd like to tell a story anyway. The problem is that anytime someone dies, it's because I said so. I guess I prefer the dice to make a more impartial decision. Or maybe I am just hiding behind the dice. I'll have to take that one up with my therapist one day. But yes, being the PCs taken prisoner and waking up in a combat arena with a Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal - completely awesome. Well, at least for me as the DM.

    - Ark

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  10. @Dan - Thanks for the answer and further clarifications in email. It's something I'll definitely house rule.

    I don't really know how many other people DMed AD&D back in the day. I was off in West Texas where us DMs were very few and far between. But the players were VERY happy with having a little cush 'twixt them and death. And judging from my son's reactions today, he was plenty happy with a negative ten death mark as well.

    Or course, players would also like a stacks of gold and a free pony - but this is a tad different. It creates some additional tension and suspense that a clean and simple death does not.

    So, I'd definitely vote for an -10 option included in any future product or revision. Optional, of course. I'm sure there are scads of people who like it just the way it is.

    Thanks a bunch.

    - Ark

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  11. Not a big D&D fan but I've never used anything but 0 = Dead. I never understood anything else. If Hit Points represent how much damage you can take, how can you take more hit points than you have? How can you take more damage than you can take? It eludes me.

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  12. LL (modified by A WFRP-ey take on hp as wounds/stamina).

    At 0hp roll on a d6 table:
    1-2: Blarg Im Ded! - Food for worms. Play the Last Post; then fight over their stuff.
    3-4: A Mere Flesh Wound! Oh... - Bleeding Out. Incapacitated, dead in d6 rounds unless healed.
    5-6: You Whine Like Sissy Girl! Incapacitated until end of combat. No immediate danger of death.

    Sure, it's not as hardcore as D&D as written, but it allows for captured characters, ransoms, rescue attempts, 'left for dead' comebacks and the like...

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  13. After 0 hp you are unconscious and I start cutting into Strength (or CON if you're playing AD&D). When the stat is 0 then you are dead.

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  14. @Alien - While clearly an afterthought of the game designers, it provides a mechanism for unconsciousness and suspense, which always seem to play really well in games.

    @Chris - Well hardcore can be over-rated, can't it? I like the incapacitated classification as well. If I remember correctly, I used the -10 AD&D bleeding rule, but if a PC hit an even 0 hps, they were just unconscious with no bleeding. I don't recall where that came from, but it was most likely from a Dragon Magazine article at the time.

    @Todd - I really like the bleeding CON idea. I'm going to have to steal it and play test it. So do you lop off one per round? After regaining consciousness, does CON go back to normal, or does it take time to heal?

    - Ark

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  15. One thing you can do to increase player survivability is to decrease the monsters' hit points. Instead of d8 hit dice, roll them with d6 or d4 hit dice. Or if running a module, halve the hit points of all the less interesting monsters.

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  16. @Akiyama - True. That would speed things up a bit. But I do like the unconsciousness mechanic. Makes the players freak out all over the place. :)

    - Ark

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