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General A more story-based mechanic for "somewhat grittier" healing - has this been done in D&D before, and would you use it?

ccooke

Adventurer
So, the "4e healing is best" thread has turned into the old "Are hit points meat?" argument, which will never be solved because it is about fundamental differences of approach to the fiction of the game. I started writing this in there, but it's clearly its own question (and will probably devolve into its own argument, if people notice it at all, but it's 4am and I'm thinking about potential D&D mechanics again, so this is going to get written down, damnit). Therefore...

I am reminded of something I was thinking of a while back for a... sort of half-way house gritty-ish storytelling houserule. Based on the idea that D&D is generally a game about talented adventurers who get into life-threatening situations, what if we go with the trope of "People running on adrenaline can shrug off fatal wounds, at least for a while" and try this:

(5e mechanics, easy to use in any edition with minor tweaks)
1. If you are dropped to half your hit points, you have taken a wound
2. If you are dropped to 0hp, you take another wound
3. Wounds do not take effect until after the encounter they are obtained in (you're pumped up on adrenaline)
4. Wounds are based on the damage you took, and provide some hindrance (penalty to attack with both hands, subtraction from speed, drop your max HP, etc)
5. Wounds have a healing threshold and a DC to cure. You can make a CON save to try to recover from one wound every time you finish a long rest. Any time a single source heals you for the healing threshold value or more, you can make a CON save against one wound. Let's say something like threshold 10 and DC 10 as an initial thought.
6. A successful medicine check (same DC as the wound) gives advantage on the next attempt to cure it.
6a. Anything else the DM says cures a wound cures it. Obviously.

(Not playtested, although I think I know a group who would love this sort of thing)

Mostly, I'm wondering if anyone has tried something like the above? It seems like an obvious thing that someone must have tried in some d&d variant (and therefore, is there a variant with a better implementation than mine? :) )

It's not exactly simulationist; it's presenting a storytelling trope of the heroes who finish the fight, then fall over. I think it would be fun to play (I'd definitely play in a group that used something like this, although the numbers could do with some work). I'm sure there are people who would hate it, but I know a lot of people who like horrible complications being thrown in to their game - as long as they feel fair. I am certain there are plenty of people who would hate this - but I'm very interested in constructive feedback.

Just for ease, let's throw in a couple of examples:

(Again, I'm using 5e mechanics; this would be very easy to translate or (for something like 4e) reword into a more keyworded form. There should also, of course, be a good few more of these)

A simple one:

Contusion
Damage types
: bludgeoning, force, thunder
You have massive bruising across the wound, with possibly broken bones. Movement is painful - your speed is reduced by 5' and you cannot take the Dash action. You may attempt a DC 10 Constitution saving throw any time a single source of healing restores 10hp or more to you (this can include a long rest).
On a successful roll, the wound is cured. You can only cure one wound each time you are healed.

Something nastier:

Disfiguring burn
Damage types
: acid, fire, lightning, radiant
Your face has been badly burned, and your senses are impaired. You have disadvantage to Wisdom (perception) and Charisma (persuasion) checks, although your fearsome appearance gives you advantage on Charisma (intimidation) checks. In addition, your hit point maximum is reduced by 5 while you have this wound. You may attempt a DC 20 Constitution saving throw any time a single source of healing restores 20hp or more to you (this can include a long rest).
On a successful roll, the wound is cured and you gain an additional 5hp. You can only cure one wound each time you are healed.

And something more specific:

Lightning twitch
Damage types:
lightning
Your recent brush with the power of lightning has left your muscles twitchy and uncoordinated. You have disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls and saving throws using Dexterity. You may attempt a DC 5 Constitution saving throw any time a single source of healing restores 10hp or more to you (this can include a long rest).
On a successful roll, the wound is cured. You can only cure one wound each time you are healed.

Okay, there you go. Is there something better out there? If you would use something like this, what do you think wouldn't work? As a caveat (that I'm sure many people won't get far enough to read, but oh well!), I'm going for some rules that support telling a story in which the PCs get lingering wounds and deal with them (or, of course, meet people who have such wounds and perhaps lack the resources to cure them themselves). It's not intended to be accurate to life, and there are plenty of edge cases that I don't think would detract from the idea - for instance, the length of the fight isn't taken into account, and I'm not trying to mimic specific conditions.
 

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delphonso

Explorer
I'm into it. I've never had a healing discussion with my players, and don't totally understand the "issue" people are trying to avoid on this forum. I like these sorts of penalties for crits, though, or for wounds depending on the scenario.

How would you introduce this at level 1, when most monster hits would do half their health if not all of it in one go? 2 wounds if the Wizard goes from 7 to 0 HP?

Some other ideas:
Swollen Eye (bludgeoning, force)
Your eye has swollen shut giving you disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks relying on sight. DC 10, Healing 10.

Concussion, Mild (bludgeoning, force)
Your concussion makes it hard to focus and slows your reactions just slightly. Until healed, you cannot take Reactions.
DC 10, Healing 10 (should probably be done before sleeping...)
 


pnewman

Explorer
So if I am a level 1 Wizard and I don't have 10 hit points i can't recover from a contusion without magic, because a long rest will never give me 10 hit points?
 

Coroc

Hero
So, the "4e healing is best" thread has turned into the old "Are hit points meat?" argument, which will never be solved because it is about fundamental differences of approach to the fiction of the game. I started writing this in there, but it's clearly its own question (and will probably devolve into its own argument, if people notice it at all, but it's 4am and I'm thinking about potential D&D mechanics again, so this is going to get written down, damnit). Therefore...

I am reminded of something I was thinking of a while back for a... sort of half-way house gritty-ish storytelling houserule. Based on the idea that D&D is generally a game about talented adventurers who get into life-threatening situations, what if we go with the trope of "People running on adrenaline can shrug off fatal wounds, at least for a while" and try this:

(5e mechanics, easy to use in any edition with minor tweaks)
1. If you are dropped to half your hit points, you have taken a wound
2. If you are dropped to 0hp, you take another wound
3. Wounds do not take effect until after the encounter they are obtained in (you're pumped up on adrenaline)
4. Wounds are based on the damage you took, and provide some hindrance (penalty to attack with both hands, subtraction from speed, drop your max HP, etc)
5. Wounds have a healing threshold and a DC to cure. You can make a CON save to try to recover from one wound every time you finish a long rest. Any time a single source heals you for the healing threshold value or more, you can make a CON save against one wound. Let's say something like threshold 10 and DC 10 as an initial thought.
6. A successful medicine check (same DC as the wound) gives advantage on the next attempt to cure it.
6a. Anything else the DM says cures a wound cures it. Obviously.

(Not playtested, although I think I know a group who would love this sort of thing)

Mostly, I'm wondering if anyone has tried something like the above? It seems like an obvious thing that someone must have tried in some d&d variant (and therefore, is there a variant with a better implementation than mine? :) )

It's not exactly simulationist; it's presenting a storytelling trope of the heroes who finish the fight, then fall over. I think it would be fun to play (I'd definitely play in a group that used something like this, although the numbers could do with some work). I'm sure there are people who would hate it, but I know a lot of people who like horrible complications being thrown in to their game - as long as they feel fair. I am certain there are plenty of people who would hate this - but I'm very interested in constructive feedback.

Just for ease, let's throw in a couple of examples:

(Again, I'm using 5e mechanics; this would be very easy to translate or (for something like 4e) reword into a more keyworded form. There should also, of course, be a good few more of these)

A simple one:

Contusion
Damage types
: bludgeoning, force, thunder
You have massive bruising across the wound, with possibly broken bones. Movement is painful - your speed is reduced by 5' and you cannot take the Dash action. You may attempt a DC 10 Constitution saving throw any time a single source of healing restores 10hp or more to you (this can include a long rest).
On a successful roll, the wound is cured. You can only cure one wound each time you are healed.

Something nastier:

Disfiguring burn
Damage types
: acid, fire, lightning, radiant
Your face has been badly burned, and your senses are impaired. You have disadvantage to Wisdom (perception) and Charisma (persuasion) checks, although your fearsome appearance gives you advantage on Charisma (intimidation) checks. In addition, your hit point maximum is reduced by 5 while you have this wound. You may attempt a DC 20 Constitution saving throw any time a single source of healing restores 20hp or more to you (this can include a long rest).
On a successful roll, the wound is cured and you gain an additional 5hp. You can only cure one wound each time you are healed.

And something more specific:

Lightning twitch
Damage types:
lightning
Your recent brush with the power of lightning has left your muscles twitchy and uncoordinated. You have disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls and saving throws using Dexterity. You may attempt a DC 5 Constitution saving throw any time a single source of healing restores 10hp or more to you (this can include a long rest).
On a successful roll, the wound is cured. You can only cure one wound each time you are healed.

Okay, there you go. Is there something better out there? If you would use something like this, what do you think wouldn't work? As a caveat (that I'm sure many people won't get far enough to read, but oh well!), I'm going for some rules that support telling a story in which the PCs get lingering wounds and deal with them (or, of course, meet people who have such wounds and perhaps lack the resources to cure them themselves). It's not intended to be accurate to life, and there are plenty of edge cases that I don't think would detract from the idea - for instance, the length of the fight isn't taken into account, and I'm not trying to mimic specific conditions.

Just RP it, 5e (and other editions) are unfit for a wound system for so many reasons.

I play DSA a lot , they have a wound system, with mechanically minus modificators for the wounded character , the more he gets wounded.

But: the HP are different in DSA. It is quasi a system without levels since the latest edition, but also over its editions this never changed:
If e.g. your character has 35 HP on "first" level he might end up with 50 HP at "15." level, so it is a different form of BA keeping low level critters a danger, especially because you only roll to hit, AC is damage reduction only, the only chance to avoid a hit, is to successfully parry or dodge, which only has some 30-50% chance since the latest edition , and you mostly can only parry or dodge one attack per round.

It is also without classes although it has the option of professions, but everything is freely modable, but to the point a "wizard" might have 30 HP and a "fighter" has got 40, it is not like with D&D where the wizard got 30 HP and the fighter 100HP.

But even if this does not convice you,

"3. Wounds do not take effect until after the encounter they are obtained in"

This is just another workaround, with DSA the wounds do take effect immediately e.g. You are trying to save yourself work, because else in your suggested gritty system you would have to look at the mobs also. It is highly unrealistic that adrenaline does last all the time till the end of an encounter, it might, it might not . But if a wound confers some physical limitation, how do you resolve this? The adrenaline cannot repair or replace torn or snapped ligaments or broken bones, it just takes away the pain for some moments.
 

Mistwell

Legend
Probably shouldn't be a fixed sum of hit point damage linked to it, but hit dice. So if you spend a hit die, you can roll a save with a DC of 8+average for your hit die, or something like that. That way you avoid the wizard issue pnewman mentions, and it better represents a percentage of your personal hit points.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Just RP it, 5e (and other editions) are unfit for a wound system for so many reasons.
Saying "just RP it" doesn't help, as IME most players wouldn't RP it to nearly enough detriment to their PCs without some enforced rules backing it up.

The reason we keep seeing threads like this is simple: 4e-5e's resting and recovery has become ludicrous in its generosity, leading to persistent attempts to rein it in somehow and make injuries actually carry some meaning and consequence.

It's relatively easy to overlay a wound-like system onto 1e using body points*; we've been playing this way for nigh on 40 years now and it hasn't killed our games off yet. :)

* - body-fatigue points is our term for it; roughly similar to wound-vitality points in some other systems.
 

Coroc

Hero
Saying "just RP it" doesn't help, as IME most players wouldn't RP it to nearly enough detriment to their PCs without some enforced rules backing it up.

The reason we keep seeing threads like this is simple: 4e-5e's resting and recovery has become ludicrous in its generosity, leading to persistent attempts to rein it in somehow and make injuries actually carry some meaning and consequence.

It's relatively easy to overlay a wound-like system onto 1e using body points*; we've been playing this way for nigh on 40 years now and it hasn't killed our games off yet. :)

* - body-fatigue points is our term for it; roughly similar to wound-vitality points in some other systems.

Tbh. as a player (of some class which is not CON/ CON save heavy) I fear even one level of exhaustion more than being at down at 10 HP.


For @ccooke I recommend try out the grittier healing rules first: Short rest = 8 hours sleep, Long rest = a weekend at the inn with comfortable beds and such or 1 week in the wilderness.

I know that this might some how nerf classes relying on their 2 short rests / adventuring day, but you can resolve it like that:

If there is some difficult battle ahead give the players an exceptional 5 min short rest, but just for that purpose.

I do it like that, group is 1 rogue, 1 BM fighter, 1 wizard, 1 paladin, temporary 1 nature cleric but very rare, and it did work out.
 

There are games where you take debilitating injuries. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Rolemaster, GURPS, and even Fate come to mind. And there are games where you don't - D&D and Tenra Bansho Zero come to mind (the latter having an explicit reverse death spiral).

This seems to be an attempt to tweak the healing without ever having any sort of real wound first.

@Coroc I find short rest = 8 hours, inn = long lazy weekend is actually good for the short rest classes and gives more shorts rest per long rest.
 

ccooke

Adventurer
Probably shouldn't be a fixed sum of hit point damage linked to it, but hit dice. So if you spend a hit die, you can roll a save with a DC of 8+average for your hit die, or something like that. That way you avoid the wizard issue pnewman mentions, and it better represents a percentage of your personal hit points.

Yes, agreed. It's too punishing otherwise.

I really like the concept, but this set of mechanics needs work (Which is not a surprise, given when I was thinking it through :-D)
 


GMMichael

Guide of Modos
3. Wounds do not take effect until after the encounter they are obtained in (you're pumped up on adrenaline)
5. Wounds have a healing threshold and a DC to cure. You can make a CON save to try to recover from one wound every time you finish a long rest. Any time a single source heals you for the healing threshold value or more, you can make a CON save against one wound. Let's say something like threshold 10 and DC 10 as an initial thought. . .

It's not exactly simulationist; it's presenting a storytelling trope of the heroes who finish the fight, then fall over.
I'd be one of the people who "hate" it, because the falling-over-after-combat thing chafes me every time.

It seems a little one-sided: PCs have to live with their wounds after a fight, while NPCs either get a TPK or die - why would NPCs forfeit a fight and carry wounds if those wounds don't take effect until after the fight?

You might ditch the saving-throw for recovering wounds. Why should PCs expend effort or resources healing themselves when they can just wait around for a lucky save?

Saying "just RP it" doesn't help, as IME most players wouldn't RP it to nearly enough detriment to their PCs without some enforced rules backing it up.
Seconded. So I bribe my PCs to role-play wounds. 5e already has a rule for it: "Flaws."

What does the game gain from this extra level of complexity?

All it does is force the players into the 5 minute Adventuring day. They'll be more inclined to fall back and heal, leading to more nova strikes, and class imbalance.
Valid question. I'd say the game gains a level of virtual sweat on the brow. Otherwise, PCs just come out of battle missing some HP, which has all of zero effect in-game.

Nova strikes become less likely if PCs think that getting to a safe place to heal might be just as hard as getting to the boss encounter. Same with defending that safe place.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
"People who like this sort of thing will find this is the sort of thing they like."

I'm not a big fan of "wounds" systems personally (not even sure I can articulate why--it just turns me off to see it on a character sheet). But if it works for you, have at it.
 

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