5E The "everyone at full fighting ability at 1 hp" conundrum

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
...wait, so you've seen 'em all happen to the same character over some longer time-frame?
I'll use my PCs as examples mostly because it's easier for me to remember what's happened to them over the years.

My eponymous PC has over his career lost two limbs (an arm and a leg, at different times; and he holds a dubious record as being the only PC to lose two), lost levels on various occasions, died a bunch of times, been petrified, and (I think) aged.

Another of my PCs has lost more levels than he's gained, been petrified, died numerous times, and been aged (by ghosts) at least twice. He's also been unintentionally cloned; there were two of him for a while before they were later merged.

And there's many more like these... :)

I can't recall ever seeing anyone's PC suffer both limb loss and feeblemind during a career, largely because each of these so rarely occur.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Kind of off the topic, but as much as I'd like a big book-o-alternate rules, I don't see anything official happening for so many reasons. One is that there's probably something decent in the DmsGuild, but I think there's a bigger issue.

Right now if I go somewhere to play D&D I can expect that there might be some minor tweaks to the game. A house rule here, a different way of interpreting a rule there. But it's still going to be basically the same set of rules everywhere with different set dressing.

Add in too many official rules (even alternative rules) and that could fragment the player base. Something like debiliatting wound tracking changes the flavor of the game.

So the best you're going to get is a house rule here and there ... suggestions for which have been sparse even on this thread.
 

3catcircus

Explorer
You really don't like bad things happening to your characters, do you? :)

I've never seen a character suffer all four of level drain, amputation, feeblemind and death in the same combat. (and don't forget there's also petrification and aging to help spoil your day)

Many times I've seen two of those happen to the same PC in the same combat, most commonly through someone dying via being level-drained all the way to and below 0th (to then rise as an undead a moment later!). The only time I've seen a character level drained, aged, and feebleminded all at once was through a series of horrible pulls from an expanded Deck of Many Things.

Amputation in 1e is extremely rare - I've maybe seen it happen 10 times to PCs in 35 years of DMing and playing. Feeblemind is also extremely rare, and more often caused by curses, traps, or Decks than by opposing spell*.

On the flip side, 1e also had mostly-unrestricted wish powers and so forth to help counter some of this.

* - the only time I can recall a PC being feebleminded via the spell happened fairly recently; and the spell wasn't cast by the opposition! It came as a result of some in-party pranks that escalated into PvP...and guess whose PC was the spell's target... ;) (the feeblemind was healed later)
When the party magic-user got level drained by the evil wizard, his saving throws dropped, so his save vs spells dropped, resulting in getting hit with a feeblemind a round later. Now, as he staggered about (I seen to recall the spell description indicating the target has the brain of a moronic child), he got caught in the blast of a fireball from a necklace of missiles bringing him down to 2 hit points. The subsequent axe attack rendered him down to -7 hit points. The option in the 1e DMG when going below -6hp was ruled by our DM to mean the M-U tried to stop the axe swing with his bare hands (like a feebleminded idiot), and got either an arm or a hand hacked off in the process before it caved in his chest...

People seem to forget that 1e AD&D, if not extensively house-ruled, was deadly. Whatever dice rolls you made stood. Rolled a 17, 16, 6, 8, 9, 12 for your stats? You got to play a glass-jawed fighter who was a a loveable meat-head...

Of course, permanent death was usually the norm since rolling up a character too all of about 10 minutes...
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
It's D&D, don't fret about it.

If I want a grittier simulation, I play another game.
Well there is that... accept the big bold brashness that is D&D except D&D really is a highly adaptable experience and if simple rules can give em cake well... you know what they say.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
When the party magic-user got level drained by the evil wizard, his saving throws dropped, so his save vs spells dropped, resulting in getting hit with a feeblemind a round later. Now, as he staggered about (I seen to recall the spell description indicating the target has the brain of a moronic child), he got caught in the blast of a fireball from a necklace of missiles bringing him down to 2 hit points. The subsequent axe attack rendered him down to -7 hit points. The option in the 1e DMG when going below -6hp was ruled by our DM to mean the M-U tried to stop the axe swing with his bare hands (like a feebleminded idiot), and got either an arm or a hand hacked off in the process before it caved in his chest...
That's one unlucky MU. :)

People seem to forget that 1e AD&D, if not extensively house-ruled, was deadly. Whatever dice rolls you made stood. Rolled a 17, 16, 6, 8, 9, 12 for your stats? You got to play a glass-jawed fighter who was a a loveable meat-head...
With those stats I'd have gone with MU (remember in 1e it goes S-I-W-D-Co-Ch) if I had to leave them in order; Int 16 gives a perfectly playable MU, Wis 6 makes it fun as hell, low Con doesn't matter so much for a MU and Str 17 meant it'd have some possible melee use at very low levels as well.

Of course, permanent death was usually the norm since rolling up a character too all of about 10 minutes...
This is certainly a factor, yes.
 
Right now if I go somewhere to play D&D I can expect that there might be some minor tweaks to the game. A house rule here, a different way of interpreting a rule there. But it's still going to be basically the same set of rules everywhere with different set dressing.
Well, in the context of AL, you can probably expect that.

Given the presentation, design ethos, focus, and slow pace of release of 5e over the last 5 years, I'd expect home games to be much more varied - maybe not quite so much as in the Golden Age, but varied. These are, as they were then, rules intended to be a starting point.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well, in the context of AL, you can probably expect that.

Given the presentation, design ethos, focus, and slow pace of release of 5e over the last 5 years, I'd expect home games to be much more varied - maybe not quite so much as in the Golden Age, but varied. These are, as they were then, rules intended to be a starting point.
Based on feedback to various threads, I think house rules are fairly minimal. Certainly less than what we did with the older editions.

At least that's been my (limited) experience.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Based on feedback to various threads, I think house rules are fairly minimal. Certainly less than what we did with the older editions.

At least that's been my (limited) experience.
The only place I've noticed much ongoing call for 5e house rules, at least in here, is rest and recovery rates. There's been occasional discussion about initiative, but that's the same issue 3e and 4e had, and the fixes are the same now as they were then.

That said, I've no real handle on how easy/hard 5e is to kitbash in practice. In theory, and going by what was promised during playtest, it's supposed to be easy...but is it, really? Have any of you tried any serious revisions of 5e's rules, and how did it go?
 
Based on feedback to various threads, I think house rules are fairly minimal. Certainly less than what we did with the older editions.
That'd be tragic, after all the compromise, effort & sacrifices for DM Empowerment, if few DMs were actually taking full advantage.
That said, I've no real handle on how easy/hard 5e is to kitbash in practice. In theory, and going by what was promised during playtest, it's supposed to be easy...but is it, really?
It is, yes. But I suppose you don't really need to do it formally - the game leaves you so much latitude to call things on the fly.
 

3catcircus

Explorer
That's one unlucky MU. :)

With those stats I'd have gone with MU (remember in 1e it goes S-I-W-D-Co-Ch) if I had to leave them in order; Int 16 gives a perfectly playable MU, Wis 6 makes it fun as hell, low Con doesn't matter so much for a MU and Str 17 meant it'd have some possible melee use at very low levels as well.

This is certainly a factor, yes.
Yep. Amazing what happens when the DM reads the monster manual and it says that it is possible to have a vampiric thief, cleric, etc. So he decided the background for his BBEG was a vampiric magic-user. Energy drain, able to cast feeblemind, and equipped with a necklace of missiles.

Good times...

As to the idea of the glass-jawed fighter, I seem to recall he was played as a bit of a nebbish due to the high intelligence and low(er) Charisma.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The only place I've noticed much ongoing call for 5e house rules, at least in here, is rest and recovery rates. There's been occasional discussion about initiative, but that's the same issue 3e and 4e had, and the fixes are the same now as they were then.

That said, I've no real handle on how easy/hard 5e is to kitbash in practice. In theory, and going by what was promised during playtest, it's supposed to be easy...but is it, really? Have any of you tried any serious revisions of 5e's rules, and how did it go?
I would agree with the resting/healing as one of the biggest adjustments people make. But even that is pretty cosmetic.

But real modifications? We've never seen much progress here. People throw out ideas but nothing seems to stick.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
It is, yes. But I suppose you don't really need to do it formally - the game leaves you so much latitude to call things on the fly.
Some things are bigger than one can just "call on the fly", though. A few quick examples:

Adding a new class or redesigning an existing one from scratch (looking at you, Ranger)
Putting some 1e mechanics back in e.g. level drain, clerics-v-undead, saving throws based on source, etc.
Adopting a body-fatigue hit point system and-or negative hit points
Putting some 4e forced-movement mechanics back into combat

Is any of this doable without having to chase down and fix knock-on effects until the cows come home?
 
Adding a new class or redesigning an existing one from scratch (looking at you, Ranger)
Prettymuch adding up hp/damage equivalencies by spell level. Weave seen MM in the process, it's not that involved... doesn't exactly inspire confidence, but not that involved. ;) Still, more work than seems worthwhile in most cases, compared to maybe working up a sub-class - which, MM also illustrates by, well, not giving us new classes for 5 years. ;P

Putting some 1e mechanics back in e.g. level drain, clerics-v-undead, saving throws based on source, etc.
Adopting a body-fatigue hit point system and-or negative hit points
Clerics do still turn undead. Saving throws are based on source, I think you mean fixed save DCs, so saves only get better - just apply proficiency to all saves. Elaborate hp alternatives, as hard as ever, I'd say - but negative hps? No problem, just drop 'em in in place of death saves and heal-from-0 - sound like an improvement, honestly.

Putting some 4e forced-movement mechanics back into combat
They're already there - Thundewave, for the big instance, because, if anyone's going to get something cool that's been largely cut from the prior ed, it's /gonna be the wizard/ - there's just on convenient shorthand, jargon, or general rules. If you go to the trouble of writing it out in that same paradigm, it'd be tedious, tho.

Is any of this doable without having to chase down and fix knock-on effects until the cows come home?
Yep, because you can prettymuch hand-wave such issues as they come up.
DM Empowerment FTW.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Prettymuch adding up hp/damage equivalencies by spell level. Weave seen MM in the process, it's not that involved... doesn't exactly inspire confidence, but not that involved. ;) Still, more work than seems worthwhile in most cases, compared to maybe working up a sub-class - which, MM also illustrates by, well, not giving us new classes for 5 years. ;P
Sorry, something's not parsing here - "MM"?

Magic Missile?
Monster Manual?
Mike Mearls?
Mini Me?

Clerics do still turn undead.
Yes, but not using the very elegant matrix that I've always seen as one of 1e's best mechanics.

Saving throws are based on source, I think you mean fixed save DCs, so saves only get better - just apply proficiency to all saves.
As in, saves v spell being different than saves v breath weapon being different than saves v poison/death, etc.?
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
an prettymuch hand-wave such issues as they come up.
DM Empowerment FTW.
You got me mostly agreeing with Lanefan on this one.. a ton of the things are loads of work and pretending the DM declaring arbitrarily is anything giving tactical choices due to the variety of induced movement is just faking it.

Not that @Lanefan and I always completely disagree but.
 

3catcircus

Explorer
I would agree with the resting/healing as one of the biggest adjustments people make. But even that is pretty cosmetic.

But real modifications? We've never seen much progress here. People throw out ideas but nothing seems to stick.
Given that Gygax himself indicated that hit points mostly represent luck/hero factor/whatever, and all of the character classes stopped increasing HD around 9th level in prior editions, only adding a small fixed number of hit points plus CON bonus after that and given that going below 0 hit points was an optional rule in earlier editions, one could consider a trip point that says "this many hit points represents meat, the rest is luck."

The issue I have with 5e isn't just that you are 100% until you hit 0 hp, its that you can't be killed until your damage goes to negative your max hit points. You've effectively doubled the scale for hit points and you've made it so that the need for magical healing or a believable period of rest is almost non-existent.

So - a PC that goes into the negative hp region from damage, but not enough to exceed their hp maximum remains at 0 hp and the rest of that damage just vanishes into the ether. Additional attacks have to do at least that PCs maximum hit points in damage to cause death; otherwise it just results in a failed death save - so you'd need at least three attacks to kill an unconscious PC, which seems ridiculous. If that PC takes no more attacks and then stabilizes, and no other healing occurs, they regain 1 hp in 1d4 hours. So they can go from unconscious and on death's door to 1 hp and full capability in as little as 1 hour, even though we know some of those hp represent meat per Gygax. They can choose to "power up" by taking a short rest, for just one hour more and potentially regain all lost hit points (for argument's sake, I'll assume they burn all HD and recover half of their total hp). They could then take a long rest for only six hours, restore all hit dice spent during their one hour short rest and all lost hit points. So - from one foot in the grave to not a scratch on 'em in 8 hours?

In my mind, if you don't want to inflict injuries that impact your combat effectiveness as you lose hit points, given the extremely lax healing rules in 5e, why even bother to keep track of hit points to begin with?

You want to keep the healing rules as-is, there needs to be some type of consequences for taking damage in combat for the encounter to have any impact whatsoever. In 1e or BECMI, everything was at stake at all times. As the game has progressed through the various editions to become "more tactical," players can be less tactical because the consequences of tactical failure have become less and less.
 
The issue I have with 5e isn't just that you are 100% until you hit 0 hp, its that you can't be killed until your damage goes to negative your max hit points.
Oh, you absolutely can be. You don't track negative hps and accumulate down to your negative max. It's just, low-level critters can be instantly killed if you hit them for that much all at once. Once you're down, additional hits inflict automatic death save failures. Y'only get 3 of those.

You want to keep the healing rules as-is, there needs to be some type of consequences for taking damage in combat for the encounter to have any impact whatsoever.
They consume healing resources - HD, and, more importantly spell slots.
 

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