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Level Up (A5E) Deadlier combat


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Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
I'd like something new, a new feature or mechanic, that means there are more meaningful lasting consequences. I think the purpose of the project is for crunchier systems.

Just using hit dice as they are isn't doing it for me. And yes, generally my parties are running on less than half hit dice but the prospect of less healing tomorrow doesn't seem to affect decision making much.
Nah, I get that. Since it's crunchy but also modular, I was thinking of having overkill reduce max HP by the amount of overkill taken. The only way to recover these max HP could be an item that the DM has or a higher level spell like regenerate.

It's a bit death spiral-y, though. I'm not sure it would be particularly fun to play in.
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
This is the kind of "modular" stuff I thought 5e was going to introduce officially, so you could tweak your game to the style you wanted. The DMG did not go nearly far enough in playing with mechanics IMO.
I've wondered what happens to a game where I put every single one of the suggested "grittier" types for healing so I once ran a one-shot with these gritty optional rules.

Them being Gritty Realism, Healing Kit Dependency, Slow Natural Healing, Lingering Injuries, and Massive Damage.

The result was an almost cruel experience for the players that had them fear every single combat encounter. The process for them was as followed:

They get into combats and usually a character takes the Massive Damage, resulting in them having to make a DC 15 con save which they have a decent chance of failing depending on the character. A character usually gets reduced to 0 hp by the second or third encounter and suffers a lingering injury. In order for them to heal from a long rest and get their spell slots back, they must find civilization to take a week long break. Otherwise, they must have a healer's kit (which I had on limited supply) to heal, taking a whole day to do so.

Once they found civilization that they can rest in, they must use their hit dice to recover their HP, as well as any spell slots.

The PC's were basically brutalized for trying to clear out a goblin lair at level 8.

If you'd like to go even beyond that, we could have taking a long rest not heal exhaustion unless you rest with full HP, or maybe as low as half.
 



DND_Reborn

I don't debate opinions.
I only skimmed through the responses, so someone may have already suggested and i missed it.

How about reducing the PC's Hit Dice? eg Wizards uses d4, Rogue & Clerics d6, Fighter d8 etc
I'm pretty sure this was brought up before, but never hurts to mention it anyway. :)

For myself, that just isn't a big deal. In total, you are only talking 21 less HP on average at level 20. shrug
 

How about monsters with auras, spells and/or abilities that temporarily prevent healing?

I am reminded of Dark Souls, where there was an item you could use to prevent nearby players from healing for a short while.

Such an effect could be added to any monster by the DM, although I would probably reserve it for powerful foes, like bosses.
 

Nebulous

Legend
How about monsters with auras, spells and/or abilities that temporarily prevent healing?

I am reminded of Dark Souls, where there was an item you could use to prevent nearby players from healing for a short while.

Such an effect could be added to any monster by the DM, although I would probably reserve it for powerful foes, like bosses.

Great idea, but yeah, it would be such a rare thing. I can see a mean demon or devil or undead with such an ability.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Makes dying a bit more complex and a bigger drain on party resources. Would you die after reaching a certain negative score (-10 in 3E, - constitution score in Pathfinder)? Healer might need to spend multiple spells slots and multiple actions to bring someone back, stopping that player doing something more fun.

I don't necessarily want to make it harder to get back in the fight. Being unconscious for multiple rounds is not a fun player experience. I just want to see longer term consequences for it.
Being dead isn't a fun player (as character) experience either, but as the point of this thread is to look at how to make that happen more often, I think it's a fair base-line assumption that being out of combat for a while not be seen as a problem.

I think it would be hard to remove ranged healing but keep Level Up compatible with basic 5E, there are too many effects which already exist that would need to be rewritten. Healing Word, Mass Cure Wounds, Celestial warlock healing ability and Divine Soul sorcerer with the reach meta magic to name a few of the top of my head.
Losing any of those, or all of those, would be just fine. If a class is overly affected, there's loads of other options they could be given to compensate.

Staying alive for X rounds sounds less deadly to me, especially rolling 2d6. Most combats don't last long, many are only a couple of rounds. If you rolled to determine how long you last if you roll high the party will know you can just wait out the clock and heal you with 1 round to spare.
Who said the player was doing the rolling? This would be a secret DM roll. The players (and characters) would not know how long they have.

Capping how many hit points you can heal would just encourage more short rests, or if you are on the clock, force you to effectively sit out the next fight rather than risk coming in with 3hp.
Exactly. It forces those hard choices. That's the point.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
How about monsters with auras, spells and/or abilities that temporarily prevent healing?

I am reminded of Dark Souls, where there was an item you could use to prevent nearby players from healing for a short while.

Such an effect could be added to any monster by the DM, although I would probably reserve it for powerful foes, like bosses.
Why stop at monsters?

This would be a great 'silent' curse to put on an otherwise-useful magic item - magical healing of any kind does not function within 10 feet of the item.

Oh, and make the curse undetectable by any means other than sheer trial and error.
 

toucanbuzz

Legend
I've seen too many combats with characters bouncing up and down, from 0hp, getting a Healing Word to give a handful back, getting knocked down again. There is no sense of fear to going into combat....

I've been using a homebrew for the last 3 years in response to this called Vitality, which replaces Death Saves, and more accurately reflects what HP actually represents (your ability to avoid real damage vs. vitality which represents the actual damage your body takes). If someone, in reality, was hit by giant's clubs or dragon's breath or even swords on a routine basis, they'd be a mess within a few weeks unable to move or walk.

If you've played 2E AD&D (-10 hp) or D&D 3rd (diehard), this will sound familiar. Remove Death Saves from your game and replace with below:

  • At 0 hp, instead of a Death Save, a player may opt to gain the Unconscious or Staggered Condition.
    • Any future damage taken in either condition goes to Vitality.
    • If a melee enemy opts to knock you unconscious, you cannot choose.
  • Vitality: this represents the actual damage your body can take. A 20th level fighter still dies when a sword is shoved in his stomach, just as much as a 1st level character.
    • Vitality is your 1st level hit points and only changes if your CON score changes.
  • Unconscious:
    • Take 1 point of vitality damage & make a DC10 death saving throw at end of your turn. Success = stabilized. Failure = at the end of each of your turns, take 1 point of vitality damage. Natural 1 = take 1d4 instead.
    • This condition ends if you have hit points.
  • Staggered:
    • Gain 1 Death Point.
    • You may continue to take Actions on your turn.
    • If you ever have 2 Death Points, gain a Lingering Injury (DMG p272).
    • At 3 Death Points, you die but may, at DM discretion, use your dying act to impact a pending d20 roll (heroic death).
    • A staggered character has disadvantage on all rolls, has no movement (e.g. must use Dash action to move), and all enemies have advantage against any abilities used by the character (other than items, such as wands).
    • This condition ends if the player has hit points.
  • Healing:
    • Hit points heal as usual.
    • Vitality heals at 1 + CON modifier per long rest, minimum 1. You can only regain Vitality if your HP is full.
    • Magical healing only repairs Vitality if hit points are full, and even then, only at 1 for every 10 points of healing that could be done (e.g. a healing potion at max heals 10 hp, or 1 Vitality, but a healing word of 1d4+4, max 8, does absolutely nothing for vitality).
    • Regeneration is always counted as at least a full 10.
    • You lose 1 Death Point every Long Rest.

It sounds like a lot at first, but it's really simply drawing up on 2E AD&D (revised) and D&D 3rd ideas of what happens when you reach 0 hp. This cripples the "whack a mole" syndrome and makes the real damage linger a bit. Even going unconscious will add up. It's done wonders for our games.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Makes dying a bit more complex and a bigger drain on party resources. Would you die after reaching a certain negative score (-10 in 3E, - constitution score in Pathfinder)? Healer might need to spend multiple spells slots and multiple actions to bring someone back, stopping that player doing something more fun.
Actually this sounds like a lot of fun. A great improvement over the current set up where you just sneeze and bring an ally up without losing any steam.
I think it would be hard to remove ranged healing but keep Level Up compatible with basic 5E, there are too many effects which already exist that would need to be rewritten. Healing Word, Mass Cure Wounds, Celestial warlock healing ability and Divine Soul sorcerer with the reach meta magic to name a few of the top of my head.
If your Divine Soul is using one of her extremely limited picks on reach I bet she's earned the right to have ranged healing. Twin is near mandatory for a Divine soul, and quicken/subtle are very competitive for the other slot. Reach, I haven't seen anybody ever pick reach.
Make all healing spells 10 minute cast times. Thus there can be no "in-combat" healing. Gameplay will change dramatically if you get knocked out of a fight at 0 HP with no way to get back up and re-enter.
On the other hand, not being allowed to be an in-combat healer is no fun at all.
How about monsters with auras, spells and/or abilities that temporarily prevent healing?

I am reminded of Dark Souls, where there was an item you could use to prevent nearby players from healing for a short while.

Such an effect could be added to any monster by the DM, although I would probably reserve it for powerful foes, like bosses.
Maybe these auras prevent healing of unconscious characters? Make a reason to have preventive healing instead of this mathematically mandated waiting until they drop?
 

Stalker0

Legend
yes, that's a simple change that would effectively make combat much more deadly. I like the negative Con myself. But I also think it might swing into TOO deadly. Getting hit at low hit points would have a very easy chance to kill someone even without a critical hit. And critical hits, that would also quickly reach the limit. But I do like the simplicity without having to change any other rule.

it is too deadly for low hp characters to stay in combat. That’s why they retreat and drink potions, dive for cover, or get protections from allies instead of swinging away waiting to go unconscious and getting an immediate heal back up.
 

Maybe these auras prevent healing of unconscious characters? Make a reason to have preventive healing instead of this mathematically mandated waiting until they drop?

I like that idea. Although contrary to what @Lanefan suggested, I am in favor of making such an ability clearly visible to the players. The goal is not to be unfairly harsh, but to encourage a more careful approach to combat. If a player goes down near an enemy with this aura, they won't be able to get back up unless their whole party deals with the threat first. This would make players less prone to leap into the fray, and remove this issue of players being brought back with ranged healing all the time. For that purpose, being able to see the aura is probably good design.

You don't need to change anything about the healing spells either, and its optional. DM's can give their monsters auras, but they don't have to.

I think we also need to be careful that what we add is simple to use, and doesn't add a ton of extra rules to the game. We should want 5E to remain simple and easy.
 

It sounds like a lot at first, but it's really simply drawing up on 2E AD&D (revised) and D&D 3rd ideas of what happens when you reach 0 hp. This cripples the "whack a mole" syndrome and makes the real damage linger a bit. Even going unconscious will add up. It's done wonders for our games.

It's an interesting system, but it does sound like a lot. It also sounds a bit like having two healthbars. I do like the rule that vitality can only be restored when you are at full health.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
On the other hand, not being allowed to be an in-combat healer is no fun at all.
Well, the thread isn't about making sure a small segment of the gaming population can have fun their only way possible... it's about making combat deadlier. And casting healing during combat is one of the easiest ways to make sure that deadliness never happens.

Yes, it would suck for those players who only wish to participate in the D&D combat mini-game by healing people... but for most other tables who want deadlier combat, it would work beautifully.
 



toucanbuzz

Legend
It's an interesting system, but it does sound like a lot. It also sounds a bit like having two healthbars. I do like the rule that vitality can only be restored when you are at full health.

In gameplay, it's run pretty smoothly as it only comes into play at 0hp, and it was a demand as a group to counter the silliness of "whack a mole." It's added a whole new dimension & thrill that allows players to keep contributing, albeit with risk. At 0hp, the next hit might be your last. And that's fine. No human being could survive an actual T-Rex bite or Frost Giant axe hit.

Finally, it never sat right with me that, RAW at 0hp, a frost giant could then "hit" you with an axe the size of a tree and you would survive (2 death failures). The next round, you might even pop up on your feet (natural 20).

Anyways, our solution for "grittier" healing.
 


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