D&D General Are Hit Points Meat? (Redux): D&D Co-Creator Saw Hit Points Very Differently

D&D co-creator Dave Arneson wasn't a fan of hit points increasing with level. According to the excellent Jon Peterson's Playing at the World he felt that hit points should be fixed at character creation, with characters becoming harder to hit at higher levels.

Of course, this is an early example of the oft-lengthily and vehemently discussed question best summarised as ‘Are hit points meat?’— a debate which has raged for over 40 years and isn’t likely to be resolved today! (but no they’re not)


gpgpn-#15-arneson-hp.jpg


Arneson later created a hit point equation in his 1979 RPG Adventures in Fantasy which was a game in which he hoped to correct "the many errors in the original rules".

aif-p4.jpg
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So he seemed to see HP a bit more physically. That's fair, though his solution is a bit fiddly. Well, okay probably not especially fiddly for back then.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I saw a set of houserules put together to do something back in the day. They may well have been derived by that, and were informed by the same discomfort with the degree of abstraction level-elevating hit points produced.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Was Arneson's Adventures in Fantasy also using a 3-18 bell curve to generate stats? If yes, then most characters wouldn't be able to take a solid blow from anything.

Example: let's be generous and assume that on a 3-18 curve the character has 15-15-15 on those three stats. So, rounding up as suggested, 15/2 = 8, 15/3 = 5, and 15/4 = 4. In the next step, 8 + 5 + 4 = 17; dividing that by 5 gives 3.4, which rounds up to 4 if the round-up suggestion is to be taken to the full.

Something is very amiss here...
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
There are games where most characters can't take two blows from most anything barring armor. Runequest I characters had around 10 hit points mostly, and a slightly above average strength gave a D4 Damage Bonus with a Broadsword doing D8+1.

The key was A )Not getting hit (usually by parrying) or B)Having enough armor to take it down to an acceptable level. Or ideally both.

Even now the hobby has plenty of games where just taking a hit sans armor is a terrible idea.
 


Kurotowa

Legend
The formula says character (men), it that to mean there is another chart for woman like in older editions where strength was different or is that more generic use, like humanoid. Either way it seems outdated like Thac0 and level limits for non-humans.
It probably means "humans", as opposed to elves or dwarves, by the syntax they used in those days. But that's just my guess.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Was Arneson's Adventures in Fantasy also using a 3-18 bell curve to generate stats? If yes, then most characters wouldn't be able to take a solid blow from anything.

Example: let's be generous and assume that on a 3-18 curve the character has 15-15-15 on those three stats. So, rounding up as suggested, 15/2 = 8, 15/3 = 5, and 15/4 = 4. In the next step, 8 + 5 + 4 = 17; dividing that by 5 gives 3.4, which rounds up to 4 if the round-up suggestion is to be taken to the full.

Something is very amiss here...
Post on Grognardia says the stats in this game were percentiles. So if I did the math right, it looks like HP would typically be in the neighborhood of 10, over a range from 1 to 22.

 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Post on Grognardia says the stats in this game were percentiles. So if I did the math right, it looks like HP would typically be in the neighborhood of 10, over a range from 1 to 22.

Also we would need to look at weapon damage, damage resistance (if any), and how often one gets hit to fully appreciate what this all means in context. I would imagine though that Arneson ran a very gritty/deadly game so these other factors are probably very similar to AD&D.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Also we would need to look at weapon damage, damage resistance (if any), and how often one gets hit to fully appreciate what this all means in context. I would imagine though that Arneson ran a very gritty/deadly game so these other factors are probably very similar to AD&D.

There's at least three ways of dealing with how armor is handled, and there's no reason Arneson would necessarily have stuck with it as a modifier to attack roll (though of course he may have).
 

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