Start high, build slow HP tweak




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  1. #1
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    Ignore Palocles

    Start high, build slow HP tweak

    I was considering using a variation on HP progression for my up coming PF Campaign but i realise it will alter the game balance a fair bit so was looking for educated guesses or actual experience of the affects on a game.

    I like that 4E PCs start with more HP and you can throw a tougher encounter at the party straight away, instead of sending tiny groups or individuals at them. BUt i don't like that a PC at higher level can basically fall off a clif and walk away from it (when rolling damage dice only and not giving PCs narratively accurate injuries).

    So i was thinking of running an HP system which give the PCs a max dice plus their con stat as starting HP but only gives con bonus plus a very small dice or set value at each level.

    That would be something like: 1 HP + con bonus for mages (and anyone using D6s), 2 HP + con bonus for Rouge/Cleric or 3 + con bonus for fighter types. Or: D2+con bonus for mages, D3 + con bonus for clerics and D4 + con bonus for fighters.

    The good thing is that a DM can match the party against, probably, twice as many monsters of CR1 or less straight away and have dramatic battles right away (cause i don't think 4 PCs fighting 3-4 Orcs is very impressive).

    But it will probably mean that as the PCs level they will not stay even with the CR of monsters. Which means that either monsters HP could be lowered a bit or a lower CR encounter would match them, in turn saving higher CR creatures for even higher charcter levels. I'd lean towards the second option.

    Allowing the PCs to gain +1 to 2 stats each 4 levels, more like 4E could help to make them maintain parity with CR and allow a PC to be more diversely developed.

    It might mean magic item distribution and treasure allocation should be altered a bit too.

    Has anyone tried this or have enough experience with the game to have an idea how it would play out?

    Some how a slower HP proggrassion strikes me as leading to more tense combats and a more agreeable game style (for me atleast).

  2. #2
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    I'd wager giving average HP (ie half of their HD) per level would suit your fancy. A 10th level barbarian with a 20 CON would have (6+5)*10 or 110 HP versus a possible max of (12+5)*10 or 170.

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    Ignore Palocles
    A quarter of an HD was more what i was thinking but it's worth knowing that it's within the bounds of posibility and bad luck just rolling the dice normally.

    But if a player was to 'roll badly' every level till X, how far behind the power curve would it put them? And how far behind would a party of such poor rollers be?

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    Ignore N'raac
    It seems reasonable to say hit points would need to fall across the board. It's hardly fair to keep that Adult Red Dragon at 212 hp when its L14 opponents (its CR) have their own hp so markedly reduced. Its d12's should be reduced to 3 per die just like the PC's.

    But it will still have well over 100 hp. Why? It has a 23 CON. This system will massively increase the desirability of CON - instead of a boost, a 16 CON now doubles a warrior's hp per level and quadruples them for a wizard. And bigger monsters tend to massive CON, so they still stay well ahead on the curve. Toughness becomes a much more desirable feat as well, adding a much greater percentage of hp.

    Since we're reducing hp but not damage, Blasting becomes a much more viable choice for spellcasters, and criticals are way more beneficial (or dangerous, depending on which end of the weapon you're on).

    Undoubtedly, it changes the balance of the game, and will change a lot of things not obvious on first glance.

    I also note you're comparing to 4e (more hp at the outset), but you're only reducing hp growth, not increasing starting hp, which are already max die + CON bonus.

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    Ignore udalrich
    Quote Originally Posted by N'raac View Post
    You're only reducing hp growth, not increasing starting hp, which are already max die + CON bonus.
    He was talking about using the con stat, not the bonus, for starting hit points. So the 16 Con barbarian starts with 28 hit points (1d12 max + 16). And presumably gains an additional 4 ht points when he rages.

    At higher levels, it will change a lot of things. N'raac listed several. Others include:

    The symbol and power word spells often have a hit point limit. They either need to have that revised downward, or the spells become more powerful.

    Healing takes less resources. If it currently takes 5 cure criticals wounds to bring the tank from 1 hp to full health, now it probably only takes 3 or 4.

    If you do not also scale down damage, the time between uninjured and dead decreases notably. A power attacking Storm Giant (CR 13) does 4d6+33 with three attacks, average 57 points of damage per hit. A 13th level fighter with a con of 16 currently has 10+12*5.5+13*3=115 hp. Under the proposed rules, he has 10+16+12*(3+3)=96 hp. Instead of two hits leaving him at about 0, two hits now leave him at -20. The gap will get worse as you go to higher levels. By 20th level, you are about 40 hit points behind the nominal values.

    OTOH, I've just shown that at 13th level, the fighter has about the hit points you currently expect for a rogue with a similar con score. So the world is more dangerous, but not on the level of front line characters dropping after half the hits.

    I think this is a viable option. It makes the lower levels safer and the higher levels more dangerous. Characters with con penalties are probably not viable, since con is now a much more important part of your total hit points.

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    Ignore N'raac
    All good points.

    The characters all lose 2.5 hp per level beyond first, offsetting the difference between CON and CON bonus.

    So what does that Dragon receive instead of his standard 212? 3 x 17 = 51 + 16x6 = 96 + 23 = 170? Does it now get the first d12 maxed out, or get 4 per die rather than 3 (where does the d12 sit?) for another 17 hp? Does it get CON added direct to its first hit die, or reduce the above by 17 hp?

    The PC has more hp - does his Orc opponent also add his full CON, or only his bonus, to his 1 hit die?

    Changes to the opponents also impact the balance.

  7. #7
    I'm just going to throw this out there before a bunch of work is done that maybe doesn't need to be. The two drives behind this are 1} desire for beefier opponents at low-level and 2} desire for falling off a cliff to be fatal even at high level.

    First up, take a look at the wiki for free fall. You'll discover that apparently (a few) human beings have survived falls from thousands of feet up, let alone the 200 that PFRPG falling damage caps out at. So... the premise that heroic and amazing adventurers might survive falling off a cliff isn't nearly as ridiculous as it seems.

    Speaking of ridiculous, we're talking about a game where these very same characters get hit in the face with axes, regularly. Dragons breathe fire on the, they're struck by lightning bolts, they're poisoned frequently, swallowed whole by monsters, and get stabbed by assassins. If surviving one "hit" from a warhammer is acceptable to you, why isn't a little... falling?

    Second, it seems to me that the easiest method is to adjust the goal-post, not the entire game. Say... make falling damage above 5 dice switch to d8s. Above 10 dice switches to d10s. Above 15 dice switches to d12s. Net effect is that at 200 feet of falling, you're looking at 130 damage on average instead of 70. Not good enough? Remove the 200ft cap. And maybe throw a multiplier on... every time you increase the dice size, double the rolled damage. So when you shift to d8s, double the result. When you shift to d10s, quadruple the result. When you shift to d12s, do eight times the rolled damage. This is all way easier than futzing with PC hit points, upon which the entire mathematical game structure hangs. Damage dealt by spells, hit points monsters have, availability of damage-increasing effects like bane weapons... it's all depending on hit points as a foundation for scaling.

    Third, low-level survivability is easy. Go ahead, give your PCs double their hit die at 1st or something. If you leave that be, over time that boost will become statistically insignificant. A barbarian with 24+ConBonus+FavoredClass hit points at first is doing just fine.

    All I'm saying is... if your problem is that you need to get a light bulb out of its socket, don't hold it still and rotate the universe around it.

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    Ignore N'raac
    Quote Originally Posted by Palocles View Post
    The good thing is that a DM can match the party against, probably, twice as many monsters of CR1 or less straight away and have dramatic battles right away (cause i don't think 4 PCs fighting 3-4 Orcs is very impressive).
    ************************************************** *****
    Some how a slower HP proggrassion strikes me as leading to more tense combats and a more agreeable game style (for me atleast).
    Seems like you want to flatten the curve - more power at low levels and less at high levels. If 4 PC's fighting 3-4 Orcs isn't impressive enough, how will it feel at 15th level if the characters are less than capable against typical L15 opponents?

    Udalrich's example showing a difference of 96 vs 115 hp for a 16 CON fighter at 13th level seems to indicate this makes a pretty limited difference. Bump that CON to 18 (or take the Toughness feat) and he's back up to 109 hp. If we make him L20, he would have 175 hp (old model) or 130 under your model, so a 45 point drop at the high end and a 13 point bump at L1.

    A 12 CON wizard would have 18 hp at L1 instead of 7, and 56 at L 20 instead of 74, an 11 point swing (only a bit less than the warrior) at L1, and an 18 point swing (much less than the fighter) at L20.

    Is that enough of a change to meet your goals?

    At lower levels, it seems like it would be much easier to just start PC's at L2 with max hp. Now starting characters can take more punishment, but the world need not change to accommodate them. You discuss raising enemy CR's at higher levels - do they need to drop at low levels now that PC's are so much heartier?

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    Ignore Palocles
    Sorry, i've been meaning to reply to this again but haven't had time.

    Thanks again for the insight.

    Empirate it is clear from what you've described that what i was thinking might be a little tweak is more of an overhaul.

    "What about temporary HP - which become much more useful to PCs than they are to monsters? What about fast healing or regeneration abilities, magical healing, DR, etc., which are all available to PCs and suddenly take on a whole new meaning?"

    Yes, all these things would have new worth to PCs. The issue is still finding a balance between new low HP PCs and existing monster CR though.

    The worst part is that it will suck to be a highlevel melee character compared to magic users. And the most important consideration is, like you said, whether the players would want to play that way. I haven't got any experienced players around here so the answer is probably "no".

    N'raac, what i initially considered was a progression more like 20 hp at first and only about 2 per level. Or Con at first and Con bonus per level. That's why i referred to it as an overhaul above.

    I'll just play the game how it is for a while longer and if any of my new players want to try something wierd i'll try the Con at first, Con bonus per lvl and take some notes on how it interacts with CRs and other effects.

    (Yes, lower CR monsters would have gone even lower)

  10. #10
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    Ignore N'raac
    Quote Originally Posted by Palocles View Post
    I'll just play the game how it is for a while longer and if any of my new players want to try something wierd i'll try the Con at first, Con bonus per lvl and take some notes on how it interacts with CRs and other effects.
    You mean remove HD entirely? So a 16 CON Wizard has more hp than a 14 CON Paladin?

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