Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hit Point Survey

Warriors Experience Table, SWN, pg 21
Okay, so this isn't one of those 'click the button' surveys, but more of a 'response requested' kind of thing, involving standard D&D style hit point rolling.

Now, in all my years, I've been under the impression that when you level, you take your Hit Die and roll - then add your new hit points (and perhaps CON mod) to your existing hit point pool.  Everyone I've ever dealt with has been in agreement - it seems to be intuitive.

Stars Without Number has classes, levels, and hit points similar to D&D, but apparently, that's not the way you do it.  From page 23 in Stars Without Number, under the heading Hit Points:
"Don’t worry too much if you roll a low number. As your character gains experience they will gain more hit points and the chance to reroll poor dice. Some GMs may choose to omit the initial roll entirely and simply start new characters with the maximum possible hit points."
Unless I'm misreading, this seems to imply for SWN that, you reroll your hit point every level.  It's an interesting concept, if it is indeed the concept here.  Has anyone heard of such a thing?

- Ark

15 comments:

  1. I've heard of people house ruling that you re-roll your HP every level, and you can choose to keep your old total or the new one. So roll 1d8 at 1st level, roll 2d8 at 2nd level and keep that total or what you had already if it's higher, then 3d8 at 3rd, etc. Rolled 8 hp at 1st level and then rolled a 3 and 4 at 2nd? Keep the 8!

    Essentially you keep getting a chance to roll those dice, and never lose out for bad rolls.

    I never played this way, and I was long out of HP-based games when I heard it. But it seems fun and prevents HP roll anxiety with the annoyance of "everyone gets max HP."

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  2. As I understand it, the language in the original D&D is unclear -- feature, not bug, etc -- and can be read to mean that hit points are re-rolled at each level.

    Some people have taken that to heart and have imported it into later editions.

    I believe that Carcosa takes it even further and has players re-roll their hit dice before each combat!

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  3. I believe the original Empire of the Petal Throne game may have had a similar rule for hit points.

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  4. Huh. I had heard of it as a house-rule, but I always thought it was weird. And, to be clear, not the good kind of weird.

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  5. I wrote a post about that quite a while ago. I like rerolling the lot but only allowing the total to go up, never down. Here's the full post.

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  6. In OD&D's Book 1 (Men and Magic), the hit dice are a little odd at times. For instance, at Lord level (9th), hit dice for a Fighting Man are 9+3 (we'd write that as 9d6+3 these days), while the hit dice for a Lod, 10th level are 10+1. There's no reasonable way to manage that if you aren't re-rolling hit dice at each level. Similarly, the Magic User goes from 8+4 at 14th level to 9+1 at 15th.

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  7. This is the rule in EPT. But you can't go down in HP due to a lower reroll.

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  8. @everybody - Thanks ya'll, for the information about alternative hp generation. I had no idea! I think it has some potential. I'll give it a whirl in my upcoming SWN game.

    - Ark

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  9. The commenters are right- I pulled the rule from Ye Ancient Days. Specifically, the "reroll HP at each level, but it can only increase" from the original EPT game, since it was a reskinned OD&D version and I expected MAR Barker knew how it was done at the time.

    In a more systematic sense, it allowed me to keep the uncertain randomness of rolling for HP at 1st level without condemning the PC to perpetual fragility if they happened to get a bad roll. The possibility of low hit points implicitly encourages 1st level PCs to avoid combat whenever possible, because the RAW are not kind to 1st level PCs in combat. Not every player new to SWN is going to automatically realize that their brand-new PC doesn't have the kind of plot armor embedded in different play styles, but the structure of the rules can underline that. "You have 2 HP, and a mook with a laser pistol does 1d6 damage."

    Of course, disposable 1st level PCs aren't terribly popular these days, so I inserted cheap lazarus patches and the level 1 Biopsionics power to ensure that only a very badly equipped party is going to be unable to revive a downed friend, assuming they can get to them reasonably quickly. If the entire party goes down, well, life's rough in the untamed cosmos.

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  10. In original D&D it's not precisely explained. Empire of the Petal Throne (1975) handles it as a reroll of all dice each level. Personally, I always used the straight adding method, but lately have come around to liking the "roll them all each level" method.

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  11. HackMaster uses something like this. Some levels you reroll a hp die and other levels you roll normally and add the total. The problem I would have with this is I would never remember what the hell I rolled when I leveled from before.

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  12. Personally, I like both "roll all your hit dice each level" and "add your new hit dice". So in my players guide, I used both, with fighters re-rolling all of their dice each level, and everyone else adding new dice to previous totals. I feel that the randomness of having your whole pool of hit points potentially change makes sense for a more physical class.

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  13. @Sine - Thanks for responding. I'm still suprised when I cogitate about games on a blog and the actual game designers pop in and comment. If Gary Gygax had responded to my questions in a similar way (not that I ever posed any,) my 11 year old self would have probably fainted. So thanks. :)

    Last night I finally saw you spell out the hp rules on page 64. Funny how I'll blah blah blah over a section of rules, assuming I already know how some feature works.

    I really like how this mechanic works. I think it addresses some deep seated worries that most players have. Blowing your hp roll can suck - and it sticks with you for the rest of the characters life. Doing it the 'regular' way, I'm awfully tempted to let them reroll a 1. But this way - naaah. Suck it up dudes and dudettes - if you survive there's a good chance it will get substantially better.

    So thanks for bringing this very cool mechanic to my attention. It also make me want to hunt down a copy of the original EPT even more. Oh, and I can't wait till my budget allows for Darkness Visible - it sounds like it would be great for a Stainless Steel Rat inspired campaign.


    @Tim - that would require too much rememberating - or the ability to take notes - neither of which I do too well. :)


    @Lasgun - That's a pretty interesting take on the rule. Geez - can you imagine a newly 4th level fighter going froom 25 hp to 5. Ouch! Talk about a bad hair day :)

    - Ark

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  14. "Back in the day" (late '70s, early 80s; AD&D1st) we actually rolled our hit points each adventure.

    Some DMs even had you wait until the first time you got damaged during the adventure to roll the hit points.

    Personally, I still prefer this approach.

    Carl

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