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Removing Hit Points from the Game

Satyrn

Villager
What if you just gave PCs all the benefits of leveling up except for the hit points (assuming they start with some decent chunk of HP)?
That'd totally work for me.

I actually was recently fiddling with a hack that would work much like that. A character would start with his Con score in hit points and then gain from 1 ( wizard) to 4 (barbarian) hit points for each Keven ( including the first). It improves a character's hit points for tier 1, and then stays pretty static for tier 2.

It had the neat effect of working well ( in theory at least) with the Encounter building guidelines, CR and such, when it comes to the damage a PC can take. The numbers line up will enough that I'd just treat the characters as equivalent to half their level. So, level 5 characters would be facing CR 2 or 3 creatures as the standard.

On top of this, the players would still have fireball and their Extra Attack, which effectively means the monster's hit points have been reduced, too.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Just gonna present a counter opinion:

No, I don't reduce HP gain because low-level threats remaining dangerous at high levels isn't a play goal for me.

I just find new and exciting ways to hurt the pla...I mean characters.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
Have you eliminated hit point inflation from your 5E game? How did you do it? Did it work?
Eliminated no, modified yes. Be using HP (per standard) and BHP (bloodied HP = meat points) we have something that feels good to our group. That coupled with slow leveling (it took us 4 years to reach level 10) and we don't have the issue you want to combat (or at least how I understand it).

EDIT: To clarify, BHP don't really change, you basically have what you started with (leveling does not change BHP). Once those got to 0 - your dead.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
One issue with this comes in the form of healing potions. It's hard enough to ask someone to hand you a healing potion, under the existing model of abstract damage. It would be even harder to ask someone for a morale potion, when everyone involved is perfectly aware that nobody has been injured at all.

Likewise, complaining to the cleric that you feel distressed, and having them cast cheer up on you, does not seem very heroic.
Think of it as fatigue,minor injuries, and luck, that is what we do and it works just fine (for us & coupled with actual meat points). It doesn't seem odd to ask the cleric to cast heal on you because your exhausted and can't take much more before I suffer a lethal injury. And everyone is aware you are fatigued, scratched, bruised and can't take much more.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Think of it as fatigue,minor injuries, and luck, that is what we do and it works just fine (for us & coupled with actual meat points). It doesn't seem odd to ask the cleric to cast heal on you because your exhausted and can't take much more before I suffer a lethal injury. And everyone is aware you are fatigued, scratched, bruised and can't take much more.
The best part about bruises is that they're highly visible, in exactly the same way that morale and luck are not.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
The best part about bruises is that they're highly visible, in exactly the same way that morale and luck are not.
Yes, fatigue is fairly visible as well. I am not sure what you are suggesting. Both fatigue and bruises can have little to no impact on actual performance (I know from years of experience here ;) HP, IMO, works very well as an abstraction of three things: fatigue, minor injuries (scratches, bruises, etc.), and luck. Now, I like an actual hit to have more consequences then just death saves, so we added meat points (BHP) instead, which kick-in when you take a serious blow (you have 0 HP or on critical hits).

By escalating HP (as characters increase in level) we mimic the increased ability of the characters, and by keeping BHP constant we mimic how, no matter who you are, when you really get hit - its serious. This works well for us, but I admit it doesn't do a good job of simulating the last stand of Boromir and similar events. But in general it works for us.
 
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Fenris-77

Explorer
I think people might be underestimating the amount of rework involved in removing hit points. The game scales around hit points. Damage output, PC and monster HP totals, spell damage etc. It might not be perfectly balanced, but thats the system. If you change HP the cascade of other changes to balance and gameplay is pretty huge. Unless you rescale damage to match the replacement system but then you do, as mentioned above, just have the same system with smaller numbers. Im not saying don't do it, but just be honest about the sheer amount of qork required to do it right.

It would be easier, and simpler, to change the healing mechanics. You'd get similar results for a lot less work. You could still layer on some rules to model increasing injury too, if that's your thing.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
I think people might be underestimating the amount of rework involved in removing hit points. The game scales around hit points. Damage output, PC and monster HP totals, spell damage etc. It might not be perfectly balanced, but thats the system. If you change HP the cascade of other changes to balance and gameplay is pretty huge. Unless you rescale damage to match the replacement system but then you do, as mentioned above, just have the same system with smaller numbers. Im not saying don't do it, but just be honest about the sheer amount of qork required to do it right.

It would be easier, and simpler, to change the healing mechanics. You'd get similar results for a lot less work. You could still layer on some rules to model increasing injury too, if that's your thing.
Fenris-77 brings up an interesting point about removing systems or house-ruling them. If you can change one thing instead of another to achieve the same desired effect, go with the easiest option. For example, our table has been debating changing the AC mechanic to Armor give damage reduction, etc., but it worked out pretty balanced but resulted in nearly the same effect for combat as keeping AC as it is! Sure, you go hit more with our ideas, but your Armor absorbed some of the damage. The net balance worked out even, but it raised the point: why bother then? If our system achieves the same result in duration of combat and so out as the status quo, why bother changing it? So, we dropped it and continue with AC as is.

In working with HP, we found changing the healing systems (spells, rest, etc.) works more easily than trying to revamp the HP system.
 

Riley37

Villager
I have been pondering, but have not hammered out nor play-tested, a system which combines D&D HP with the Mutants and Masterminds idea of rolling to see how well you survived damage. Track how many HP damage you have received. Every time this increases, make a CON saving throw against that DC. Assuming most PCs have CON 16, that means they're safe when they've taken 4 HP damage, since even if they roll 1, they'll pass that DC 4 saving throw. If they take 23 HP damage, then they need to roll 20 to make a DC 23 CON saving throw. How badly they fail the saving throw determines how badly they're injured. This plan has several downsides. One of those is changing the balance of power; a wizard and a rogue are now equally at risk, rather than one getting d6 and the other getting d10. Proficiency with CON saving throws becomes even more desirable, via class or the Resilient feat.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
I have been pondering, but have not hammered out nor play-tested, a system which combines D&D HP with the Mutants and Masterminds idea of rolling to see how well you survived damage. Track how many HP damage you have received. Every time this increases, make a CON saving throw against that DC. Assuming most PCs have CON 16, that means they're safe when they've taken 4 HP damage, since even if they roll 1, they'll pass that DC 4 saving throw. If they take 23 HP damage, then they need to roll 20 to make a DC 23 CON saving throw. How badly they fail the saving throw determines how badly they're injured. This plan has several downsides. One of those is changing the balance of power; a wizard and a rogue are now equally at risk, rather than one getting d6 and the other getting d10. Proficiency with CON saving throws becomes even more desirable, via class or the Resilient feat.
So what happens if they fail the check? I am not familiar with Mutants and Masterminds.

As for the discrepancy between classes and HD type, you could add a bonus to the check. Also, if you make it a CON ability check instead of a save, it removes the advantage to classes with CON saves or desire for the Resilient (CON) feat.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Saving Throws could work well and require little book keeping but they do not feel heroic.
(its a tad too realistic as human response to injury is highly fluxy)

Said saving throws do not measure fatigue though where hitpoints might be seen as doing so
vaguely but since there is no ability impairment from hitpoing loss never mind ;).
 
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Hps are perhaps D&D's most successful sub-system, modeling a very tricky, inconsistent, yet utterly critical genre bit - "plot armor" - in a mechanically simple, if conceptually unintuitive (and even untenable, if you over think it) way.

In every ed, hp have remained fundamentally unchanged, because they do work, and, in 5e, hp/damage is perhaps the most significant way in which all PCs and monsters scale with level.

Not the only way: BA is minor by comparison, but not insignificant, and spell progressions represent a profound 'scaling' of versatility even if spell damage weren't scaling with slot.

But doing away with hp/damage scaling would all but eliminate the meaning of CR for many monsters, and all but eliminate advancement for a few unfortunate sub-classes.
 
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5ekyu

Adventurer
So what happens if they fail the check? I am not familiar with Mutants and Masterminds.

As for the discrepancy between classes and HD type, you could add a bonus to the check. Also, if you make it a CON ability check instead of a save, it removes the advantage to classes with CON saves or desire for the Resilient (CON) feat.
Mutants and Masterminds has a damage save system.

Each successful attack requires a "damage save" (think ConSave) vs a DC created by the strength of the atrack.

Failure produces a variety of effects depending on how badly you fail. Degree of success and fail us big.

Succeed - shrug it off
Fail by 1 to 5 - bruised and battered - take cumulative -1 to damage saves until healed. (Think of this as losing hp)
Fail by 6-10 - bruised and get a one turn condition called dazed which is kinda like slowed - limits your actions but doesnt lose all of them
Fail by 11-15 - stunned for one turn
Fail by 16+ - staggered - stunned ongoing - lasting - two staggered equal out

EDIT To give you idea of odds, iirc at beginning of fight if an attack of +10 hits a target with tough +10 its odds are about 25%each of shrug it off, take a bruise, dazed and stunned. So the more severe effects come into play after bruises or when more potent effects hit. END EDIT

These may not be exact but illustrate the idea. Essentially instead of tracking hp up and fow, you use brief conditions as the effect of intermediate combat hits. These produce sudden opportunities and moments of drama- while bruises account for the gradual raising of risk.

Now, the system needs a variety of exploit type options to help add to the drama - like say power attack raising the damage threat of an attack that you can use say against someone stunned. If you had enough of these, conditional, you might even be able to get rid of bruised tracking - or let bruises just extend or exacerbate an existing condition - not just accumulate to penalize saves.

For other genres you could have a wider variety of conditions applied, gradual recovery instead of one round, etc.

All in all, when I used it in supers, scifi and fantasy, I pt produced some of the most dynamic and lively combats of most any rpg system and it scales well and is easily adaptable to produce many different flavors.

This could be added in a lighter touch on top of a hp system, but I have not done so.

I first used it in brief homebrew- I took it in concept from a similar kind of damage tracking used in a tank miniatures game.
 
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Fenris-77

Explorer
If you want to you use saves my personal preference would be to hack the combat system to make combat more a matter of opposed rolls and with ability to soak damage with armour/CON or avoid it with Dex. Toss in some additional choices for actions, bonus actions and reactions to make things feel more interactive and "duel-ly" and you might have something workable. That doesn't fix the hit point scale any, but if you math out the combat damage and scale it by level you could probably make it work.

Just as a thought, if characters could soak the AC benefit of armour plus either their Dex or Con mod (so something between 3/4 and 10/12 for most characters) you have a base for a system where not every hit actually does damage, or does less actual damage, and you can scale back the actual hit points. As characters get higher level they do more damage, but they also have additional and greater ways and means of avoiding or limiting damage.
 

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