5.5E 5.5/6e - Is it time for Wounds/Vitality?

Stalker0

Legend
Probably one of the biggest "failed promises" of 5e was the notion of a "healing dial", that the system would accommodate many different styles of healing, from super gritty to superheroic. Ultimately what we got was a fine system, but it never really met that promise.

For those who don't know, Wounds/Vitality (W/VP) was a system used in the Star Wars SE edition of d20. Effectively a characters hitpoints were divided into a small pool of "wounds" and a much larger pool of "vitality". Damage was first subtracted from vitality, and once it was empty, damage went to wounds (there were however certain things that would bypass vitality and go straight to wounds, such as critical hits). Vitality recovered very quickly, representing more "stamina" than "flesh points", whereas wounds were considered true bodily injuries and took much longer to heal.

To me, W/VP is probably the best reflection of what dnd players often want in their healing systems. It gives a way to delineate the more vague aspects of hitpoints (stamina/luck) from the meaty "I am actually taking an injury" aspect. It both gives a way to let PCs recover damage quickly AND maintain that injuries take a long time to heal without assistance. And probably best of all.... its easy to turn into a dial. You could have the base system be something like 75% VP and 25% Wounds....and then if you want a superheroic game you could go 100% VP, or if your playing gritty maybe its 100% wounds....or anything in between.

I actually think what ultimately killed the system were the exceptions to the rule, predominately critical hits. The issue in SW was that once you had a lot of low level threats, you were going to generate a fair amount of critical hits (all you needed was a 20 on the roll)....and those would go right to wounds. This meant that as the game got higher level, vitality became less and less relevant as more things just bypassed it entirely in favor of wounds. I think for such a system to truly work, exceptions have to be extremely rare or even non-existent. The point of dnd style games is that players have a pool of hitpoints to tank damage....if you remove that you remove a core aspect of the game. An updated version of VP/W would not have any exceptions, everything goes to vitality first, then you take wounds...and of course dms can always add in their own exceptions for their personal games, as 5e already encourages.


I feel like W/VP would be perfect for the next edition or half edition, solving a long outstanding complaint about hitpoints while maintaining a system that is still easy to use and pretty intuitive. What do you think?
 

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Jer

Legend
Supporter
No, actually. As an alternate system in the DMG that can be ignored a Wound/Vitality system is fine, but I don't want to see it in the core of the game. One of the benefits of the D&D abstract hit point system is that it's easy to use at the table and easy for new players to understand - you also don't need to worry about any death spirals or other knock-on effects that come from wound systems that generally require some level of mastery to figure out what's going on with them (or explicit call-out by the designers in the text if you're really lucky).

I'd really like to see them make a simple, easy to use core of the game and then publish more optional add-ons that can be added to it though. Back when 5e was being developed they were talking about having a "tactical combat" module that could be added for groups that want that kind of thing - that's the kind of thing I'd rather see them do rather than making the core game more complex.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I think the big problem over the years has been number inflation. Hit points on both PCs and monsters have been pretty consistently trending upwards over the editions. If you add to that that 5e consciously tried to remove all the various ways to bypass hitpoints and consciously tried to make resetting to maximum hit points easy, and you end up with a system where it is very very hard to threaten PC's without a high degree of system mastery and making a conscious effort to overpower the PC's.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
If I were to do it...

You have a Wound Point value equal to your proficiency bonus.

Roll HP normally.

Once you're out of HP you're down to your Wound points. If you hit 0 wound you drop and start making death saves.

Critical Hits deal 1 Wound point in addition to double dice.

Cure Wounds restores 1 Wound point (regardless of slot level). Heal and Regenerate restore all Wound points.

You cannot recover Wound points on a short rest. On a long rest you recover 1 Wound point.

Adds a tiny layer of complexity to health, but small compared to some options. And it doesn't wind up massively inflating your hit point totals. It also makes crits more deadly without making them implausibly monstrous.
 

I feel like W/VP would be perfect for the next edition or half edition, solving a long outstanding complaint about hitpoints while maintaining a system that is still easy to use and pretty intuitive. What do you think?
Yes 100% yes it is time.

BUT you need to give Con or Cha score wounds at 1st level and add a bonus at later levels on top of HD for vitality.
Saying that HD spending and most low level healing (healing word) can only heal vitality also leaves open space for bigger healing spells that heal BOTH wounds and vitality
 

I think the big problem over the years has been number inflation. Hit points on both PCs and monsters have been pretty consistently trending upwards over the editions. If you add to that that 5e consciously tried to remove all the various ways to bypass hitpoints and consciously tried to make resetting to maximum hit points easy, and you end up with a system where it is very very hard to threaten PC's without a high degree of system mastery and making a conscious effort to overpower the PC's.
yeah I had proposed 3HD at 1st level but then only HD on odd levels so at 20th a fighter would have 13d10hp... in my orginal suggestion I had even levels get +1/2/3 based on class... but if we went W/V we could do that vitality is con or cha score, you get 1HD at 1st 3rd 5th 7th 9th 11th 13th 15 17th 19th and the bonus of 1/2/3 at even levels goes to wounds
 



DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I use the Exhaustion table at 0 HP instead of 3 Death Saves. This is essentially my "Wound Points" table at play. Only difference is that all PCs have "six Wound Points", as I don't change the Exhaustion table based on CON scores or whatnot.

And the benefit of course is that a loss of a "wound points" actually reduces the PCs effectiveness, as the Exhaustion table has penalties that take effect at each level.
 

Oofta

Legend
First, there was like one interview from a guy that only worked with 5E for a short time that even mentioned a modular system. Can we give the "broken promises" trope a rest?

Second, I don't want a death spiral. Healing works well enough the way it is. It's simple and easy to implement. Want some variety? Go from short rests being 15 minutes to being overnight. Enforce hit die recovery or not. Maximize healing potions and make drinking them a bonus action or make them as rare as hen's teeth and require a free hand and an object interaction to pull on.

There's plenty of options for the groups that want them even without official optional rules.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I think the big problem over the years has been number inflation. Hit points on both PCs and monsters have been pretty consistently trending upwards over the editions.
I would argue this is untrue, especially for PCs. While 5e wizard/rogue types have a slightly higher base hitdie, when you consider the plethora of con boosting items in 3e, 3e character generally had a lot more hps in my experience. 4e characters start with a lot of hitpoints, but since they don't have con scaling it tends to balance out and then actually become less than 3e/5e. So ultimately HPs peaked in 3e and have come back down in 4e/5e.
 


First, there was like one interview from a guy that only worked with 5E for a short time that even mentioned a modular system. Can we give the "broken promises" trope a rest?
no we can't it was said WELL HE WAS REPRESENTING the company and no one ever said it was changed.
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
I think this "death spiral" malarky is just a screen to say "I don't want things to change" or "I like the system the way it is" or "Wounds are fine and 5e is the best thing since sliced bread."

The only way you end up in a death spiral is if you continue to press on when you get injured, or your ability to do what you do. And you know what you do then, you flee. You leave the fight. Not every fight needs to be to the death. You take a week to recover. Gee, I'm at 2 Exhaustion, let's keep going deeper into the dungeon! Let's go fight the BBG. No, how about you wait and recover first. And if its impossible to flee or have the time to rest (due to the way ticking clocks and "adventure paths" work now), that's a table issue, not a game issue. We play older school rules with much lower hit points, non-balanced encounters, etc. and both monsters and characters flee fights they can't win. If I'm poisoned, I'm not going anywhere. If I'm non combat capable in a fight, we're withdrawing, and the game/table accommodates that.

I like @Steampunkette's suggestion about a critical doing 1 vitality. 5e is simple at its core, it needs more dials to turn, especially around healing. Their gritty healing seems half baked.
 



payn

Legend
I think this "death spiral" malarky is just a screen to say "I don't want things to change" or "I like the system the way it is" or "Wounds are fine and 5e is the best thing since sliced bread."
The death spiral was a common complaint about SW saga edition. It's something to be considered in application.
The only way you end up in a death spiral is if you continue to press on when you get injured, or your ability to do what you do. And you know what you do then, you flee. You leave the fight. Not every fight needs to be to the death. You take a week to recover. Gee, I'm at 2 Exhaustion, let's keep going deeper into the dungeon! Let's go fight the BBG. No, how about you wait and recover first. And if its impossible to flee or have the time to rest (due to the way ticking clocks and "adventure paths" work now), that's a table issue, not a game issue. We play older school rules with much lower hit points, non-balanced encounters, etc. and both monsters and characters flee fights they can't win. If I'm poisoned, I'm not going anywhere. If I'm non combat capable in a fight, we're withdrawing, and the game/table accommodates that.
This malarky sounds like an oberoni excuse to force it into the ruleset.
I like @Steampunkette's suggestion about a critical doing 1 vitality. 5e is simple at its core, it needs more dials to turn, especially around healing. Their gritty healing seems half baked.
I agree with this.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I would argue this is untrue, especially for PCs. While 5e wizard/rogue types have a slightly higher base hit die, when you consider the plethora of con boosting items in 3e, 3e character generally had a lot more hps in my experience. 4e characters start with a lot of hitpoints, but since they don't have con scaling it tends to balance out and then actually become less than 3e/5e. So ultimately HPs peaked in 3e and have come back down in 4e/5e.

I disagree but it's not worth fighting over since I suspect it's going to come down to "in my experience". Sort of like "damage per round peaked in 1e" is a defensible proposition for a very narrow and specific way of playing 1e, but when you make that proposition it often shocks and angers people who did not in the slightest play that way.

Suffice to say that I believe it's possible to chart a very steady trend of number inflation across the board (PC hp, monster hp) as to how the game is expected to work (as opposed to how it could be made to work), and this gets really clear when you start comparing the hit points of the same monster across editions. The "plethora of CON boosting items" assumption assumes the existence of the Christmas Tree, which was an artifact of a very specific sort of 3e ("optimized") play and was by no means universal and baked into the rules. And even then, in both cases it's going to be an artifact of relatively high level of play to overcome the starting advantages in hit points that 4e and 5e characters will inherently have under the rules from having more and larger HD.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
In General no I am not a fan of would vitality systems. The added overhead of tracking the multiple tracks is not worth the payoff. Also what is the point unless the lingering wounds have some consequences which then leads to the death spiral issue.
I use the Exhaustion table at 0 HP instead of 3 Death Saves. This is essentially my "Wound Points" table at play. Only difference is that all PCs have "six Wound Points", as I don't change the Exhaustion table based on CON scores or whatnot.

And the benefit of course is that a loss of a "wound points" actually reduces the PCs effectiveness, as the Exhaustion table has penalties that take effect at each level.
I am somewhat attracted to this perhaps as an option.
 

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