Implementation of Long-Term Damage

I am loving 4E currently, but there are still some things in the haze that worry me. It mostly has to do with the new extended rest mechanic in which you recover your full health after resting for 6 hours.

At first glance, I found the mechanic great because it keeps adventures fast paced and reduces the formality of the cleric healing everyone before camp. However, it does remove the possibility of long-term damage sustained by the party which would encourage them to mingle in town while their wounds closed after an adventure or seek outside help.

The dilemma comes what is the best way of implementing this that allows the players to have fun while at the same time allow their characters become weakened after a climatic near-fatal encounter and not recover instantly in 6 hours after.

In your opinion, what is the best way of simulating long-term damage to a character?

Ability and level damage is forbidden with the new 4E philosophy, which I am fine with because I never liked working out my strength score after I got hit with a ray of enfeeblement. That’s the only restriction we have to going around this sort of thing. I am hoping that WotC figured this out, but house ruling it in is just as easy however.

What I am leaning towards to right now is restricting the amount of Healing Surges a character gets to represent their more fragile condition. They are just as capable of fighting, but each fight becomes steadily more difficult.

Example of long term condition:
Inner Rot
Magical Ailment
Effect: Every time the character rests, the maximum of Healing Surges he or she can use per day back is reduced by one. When the number of Healing Surges per day reaches 0, the character enters a feverish coma and becomes helpless until the Inner Rot is cured.
 

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Snarls-at-Fleas

First Post
Your idea is good. Can I ste borrow it? :)
Another one could be adding some kind of incurable condition, which can be removed only by some special herb or ritual or something like this. Of course it should be called in some other way. For example we call it Filth Fever, but technically the PC is permanently Dazed.
 

Brown Jenkin

First Post
There seems to be allot of folks who are looking at healing surges as the long term damage category. There are ideas floating around to on have character only recover 1 healing surge a day and possibly also loose a healing surge per critical hit.
 

Celebrim

Legend
My thoughts on making grittier 4E.

1) Break hit points into 'vitality' and 'wound' points. Vitality points work just like hit points as described. Wound points make up 1/3rd of the character's hit points, and work like hit points as described with the following exception: wound points cannot be healed using your own second wind or 5 minute rest and are not fully healed by a six hour rest. These effects are written such that they now only heal vitality points and not hit points generally. Vitality points are lost before wound points. For example, a character with 27 hp has 18 vp and 9 wp. He takes 20 damage over the course of the fight, reducing him to 7 hp (0 vp and 7 wp). He then uses his second wind to restore 9 vp, and after the fight rests 5 minutes (using a second healing surge) heals an additional 9 vp. He now has 25 hp (18 vp and 7 wp).

Wound points are not fully restored by a 6 hour rest. Instead, a six hour rest restores all vitality points and 1/4 your character level (rounded down) worth of wound points. A full 24 rest restores wound points equal to your character level.

1a) Note in particular the way this interacts with existing abilities. For example, the Cleric's 'Healing Word' power should be interpreted as 'The target can spend a healing surge (gaining vitality points), and gains 1d6+4 hit points (which can be either vp or wp).' Some existing abilities may need to be rebalanced such that they specifically effect only vitality points, though most seem fine as is.

1b) Also note that despite my usage of the term 'vitality point' it is not my intention that this system should work like any existing system using a similar term. For example, it should not be construed that criticals or anything else bypasses vitality points. Such rules could of course be adopted with some care by groups that find them interesting, but 'always being vunerable' isn't really what I'm going for here.

2) Whenever you are reduced to 0 hit points or less, your healing per healing surge is reduced to 0 until such time as your wound points are restored to positive. See exception in the death and dying rules.

3) Whenever you are struck by a blow that reduces you to 0 hit points or less (including if you are already below 0 hit points), you take an injury as follows:

1-2: -1 penalty to your strength bonus
3-4: -1 penalty to your dexterity bonus
5-6: -1 penalty to your constitution bonus

For each six hour rest, if your wound points are positive you may make a save to shake off one of your injuries.

You may still choose the higher of your two bonuses when calculating your current defences.

4) The following changes are made to the death and dying rules:

4a) You do not automatically fall unconscious when dying. However, you may only choose to perform any two of the normal actions - move, minor, and standard - in each round.

4b) If you’re dying at the end of your turn, roll 1d20.

1 or less: You get much worse. As 'You get worse' below, except that you also take 1d10 damage. If this reduces you below your minimum hitpoints, you die immediately.
2-9: You get worse. Fall unconscious. If you get this result three times before you are healed or stabilized, you die.
10-17: No change.
18-19: You manage to stablize.
20: Your body recovers from shock. You stablize. If you have an available healing surge, you may use it immediately to regain wound points equal to the value of your normal healing surge. This consitutes a specific exception to the rule that your healing surge value is zero when you have less than zero hit points, and that your own healing surge cannot restore wound points.

If any modifiers apply to this roll for any reason, a natural 1 is always treated as a 1, and a natural 20 as a 20.

4c) If a character with negative hit points receives healing, he does not return to 0 hp before any healing is applied.

DM's using these rules should keep in mind that encounters will be slightly more deadly to PC's and exercise thier judgement. I don't feel injuries more complex than the ones outlined in #3 are necessary. Obviously, some attacks could potentially inflict injuries or mental injuries, though DM's are encouraged to be extremely judicious with such usages.

Any other treatment of long term effects waits until I can see how 4E handles things like curses.
 
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smathis

First Post
Losing a Healing Surge after taking a crit sounds good. I'd modify it so that you also lose a Healing Surge if taking damage equal to your Bloodied score.

Maybe also slowing down the recovery from rest. Say instead of healing up full power you can only recover a number of hit points less than or equal to your Bloodied score. So that way, some PCs could recover fully but those who had a hard time of it wouldn't.

I'm thinking limiting Healing Surges is the easiest way to get a gritty feel. I'd expect some tidbit of info in the DMG on this.

As for longer lasting conditions, I gravitate naturally towards some sort of SWSE Condition Track. But that may not make sense given the 4e rules. It looks like hitting the abilities and Healing Surges are definitely where it's at. Maybe doing that on some sort of Condition Track?
 

Are you trying to make normal healing harder, or have specific debuffs that last past an "extended rest"?

The obvious answer to the first question is to lower the speed at which healing surges return.

The second requires more thought.

If giving penalties, I recommend either using existing conditions in 4e, or cribbing the SW:S condition track, as opposed to making stuff up from what was appropriate in earlier editions.
 



Henry

Autoexreginated
I'm personally in love with Star Wars' Condition Track and Persistent Conditions. In a nutshell, when wounded past a certain point, you take a -1/-2/-5/-10/disabled penalty (to all defenses and checks), and if the condition that caused it is persistent, it stays around until whatever cures it is enacted. So if it's blindness, it might be a persistent -5 until a cure blindness is applied, or whatever.
 

@ Celebrim: While your solution may be most realistic, it has some excess baggage that is counter-intuitive to the simplicity that 4th edition heralds. Plus, have reduced bonuses to abilities is still an icky mechanic that should be avoided.

@ small pumpkin man: One thing I begun to realize is that these long term injuries are really more for cinematic reasons than purely combat mechanical. The main intention of these long term injuries to recreate the feeling of the PCs coming out fight with a dragon, knowing that the fight took something out of you that can't be cured just a night's rest. I apologize if what I am trying to convoy is not immediately clear, I just might be crazy.

Would the DM decreeing injury in an ad-hoc manner but within guidelines (triggers like critical) be a risky thing to include in the game?

@ Gundark: I am not sure, I might drop this account to make a "Man of Fewer Posts" or something. Never really thought about it to be honest, I just lurk around these parts for the most part.
 

Henry said:
I'm personally in love with Star Wars' Condition Track and Persistent Conditions. In a nutshell, when wounded past a certain point, you take a -1/-2/-5/-10/disabled penalty (to all defenses and checks), and if the condition that caused it is persistent, it stays around until whatever cures it is enacted. So if it's blindness, it might be a persistent -5 until a cure blindness is applied, or whatever.

This would be what I would apply as well.

The only significant issue being that Star Wars has lots of ways to engage the Condition system and 4E does not.

Though I wouldn't be surprised to find suggestions for these type of systems or something similar but rarer - unusual poisons, diseases, wounds, or conditions in 4E that we just haven't seen yet - in the DMG.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Man Of Few Posts said:
@ Celebrim: While your solution may be most realistic, it has some excess baggage that is counter-intuitive to the simplicity that 4th edition heralds.

So far, the reviews have either been positive or negative, but whether positive or negative 'simplicity' hasn't been a word often heard. I think it is fairly clear that streamlined or not, 4E is still a quite complex game. That is in fact, one of the three or four areas of 4E I approve of.

Plus, have reduced bonuses to abilities is still an icky mechanic that should be avoided.

I'm not sure why. It's only one step ickier than the suggestion by some others to introduce something like the SWSE wound track. In any event, it will be less icky to implement in 4E than 3E. Injuries to Intelligence or Constitution won't involve nearly as complex of an accounting as in 3E.

Still, it doesn't seem like your concerns match mine.
 

keterys

First Post
Well, depending on how gritty you want it to be, have certain triggers reduce your max healing surges by 1 until you receive long term medical care (or ale and whores, whatever's appropriate)

Possible triggers:
* Reaching bloodied (once per encounter)
* Being reduced to 0 hp
* Taking a critical hit that does at least X damage, where X could perhaps be Con score (possibly w/ +1/2 level), but variable depending on how gritty you desire.

You could have the healing surge penalty only kick in when resting, or have it literally remove them (which could get evil with the bloodied mechanic since you're not likely to use one before bloodied and you'd lose one as soon as you hit bloodied...). You can allow the Heal skill to combat the effects of this ability, so that only if multiple of the above triggered in a single encounter would you be hit with it. Magic items, like ye olde ring of regeneration, might soften or remove this penalty entirely.

And it's still a pretty simple system, whereas most penalties are a lot less so and the condition track discourages some D&D-like behavior... ie, actually fighting when really hurt, while not actually encouraging you to go to town.
 

AZRogue

First Post
Well, I'm considering pulling out the Rolemaster (or MERP) critical hit tables whenever someone gets to negative hit points. :)

"Oh, sorry about that. Your Healing Surge brings you back up to full but you have no limbs."
 

Sir Brennen

Legend
If I were going gritty, I'd still try to keep it simple:

During combat, a character can receive a Severe Injury. Each Severe Injury reduces a character's maximum number of healing surges by a like amount. This can happen in a couple of ways:
• Taking a critical hit indicates a Severe Injury. A character can only receive one Severe Injury per encounter this way.

• Falling into negative hit points indicates a Severe Injury. A character can only receive one Severe Injury per encounter this way.

• Severe Injuries are healed at a rate of 1 per day.

• Becoming bloodied imposes a -2 penalty on attacks and defenses.​
Even Grittier options:
• A character with Severe Injuries must make a Saving Throw each day. Success indicates their number of Severe Injuries are reduced by one.

• When a character becomes Severely Injured, in addition to reducing their maximum number of healing surges, he incurs an penalty as well. The exact penalty is determined by rolling a d6:
1: -2 Fort Defense
2: -2 Ref Defense
3: -2 Will Defense
4: -2 Attack Rolls
5: -2 AC
6: -1 square of movement​
This penalty is removed once the character no longer has any Severe Injuries. A character can only have one such penalty at a time. (If this option is used, Bloodied should not carry a penalty with it.

• Combine both options above for Even Grittier Still.​
Of course, how healing magic would interact with these rules would also have to be determined once we have those rules.
 
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Daniel D. Fox

Explorer
I currently use a "shock" value in my game, equal to the player's Fortitude (10 + Class bonus + 1/2 level + Con bonus[note that my group has been using flat defenses as saves for nearly three years now). Anytime the player takes more damage than his Fortitude defense, he incurs a penalty of -1 to all d20 rolls. If he takes multiple serious wounds, the penalties are cumulative. It takes 1 day to cure these sorts of wounds.

Since we also use multiple dice by BAB whenever he picks up a weapon (meaning a 8th level fighter uses 4d[W], it makes combat much more deadly and fast, since we don't use a lot of magic in the first place.
 

HeinorNY

First Post
Henry said:
I'm personally in love with Star Wars' Condition Track and Persistent Conditions. In a nutshell, when wounded past a certain point, you take a -1/-2/-5/-10/disabled penalty (to all defenses and checks), and if the condition that caused it is persistent, it stays around until whatever cures it is enacted. So if it's blindness, it might be a persistent -5 until a cure blindness is applied, or whatever.
What I don't like from the SWSE Condition Track rules is that it doesn't take into account psychological factors, like morale and adrenaline.
Sometimes a wounded enemy becomes even more dangerous.
 

We really aren't entirely sure that 6 hrs of rest heal everything btw. It spells that out implicitly in the DDXP quick rules, but remember these are rules designed to play what is essentially a public beta test of the mechanics. The paper says all the rules you need to know to play 4e at DDXP. There may be more complicated damage rules in the real game, but since the scenerios they were running were designed to be quick and light, it may be they left it easier to reset than normal.
 

Man Of Few Posts said:
The main intention of these long term injuries to recreate the feeling of the PCs coming out fight with a dragon, knowing that the fight took something out of you that can't be cured just a night's rest.

If this is the goal, I would suggest going with limiting the healing surges available, and reducing the amount of healing a rest provides based on that...
what I mean is something like:

Your max number of healing surges per day is reduced by one for each critical hit you sustain. If you are reduced to below 0 hit points, the number is reduced by two. This does not affect the number of healing surges you have to use in that day.

When you rest, you regain a number of hit points based your max number healing surges.
- 1 surge, regain 1/4 hit points
- 2 surges, regain 1/2 hit points
- 3 surges, regain 3/4 hit points
- 4 or more, regain full hit points.
At the end of your rest your max healing surges increases by 1 if you still have a reduced amount. You regain only that many healing surges to face the new day with.

Example: Joe Fighter has 5 healing surges. In a fight he takes two critical hits and gets knocked to 0 hit points, reducing him to a max 1 healing surge. During combat he can still use the 5 healing surges he started the day with.
That evening the group rests. Since his max is 1, he wakes up from the rest with 1/4 hit points and his max healing surges improves to 2.
Avoiding combat, the next evening the group rests. His max is 2, so he wakes up with 1/2 hit points and 3 healing surges...
etc..


With this any character that was severly beat up will take a couple days to recover and will tend to avoid heavy combat. You can describe it as physical injury, or morale issues, or simple combat exhaustion.
 

PeelSeel2

Explorer
I am just going to do things like:

Black Mamba Poison:
Physical Ailment
Effect:
Character is immediately reduced to an effective state of negative hit points. If full save is made (rolling a 20), character is reduced to one standard action per round and cannot use healing surges except through magical means. If magical healing is provided, the result is per standard rules. If no saves are made, character dies.
 

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