What if Hit Points were the currency of the game rules?

JeffB

Legend
I wasn't thinking of "converting" 5E to this- but rather an (imaginary) new edition of D&D that would utilize the concept. And obviously there would have to be some tweaks/rules so players wouldn't game the system.
 

JeffB

Legend
I've been thinking about this further.. Train of thought is all over...

HP could be called HP or Vitality or Endurance or whatever- Fighter maneuvers, Spells, Rogue maneuvers, some kind of crazy skill maneuver (a huge leap, etc) would be fueled by HP.

Once you are at 0 HP/Endurance/Vitality, whatever- you are now in trouble. i.e. into "meat". You now have a small "reserve" of points-maybe equal to your level, or level + con mod, or con mod + cha mod..something like that. These are used on a 1 for 1 basis for death saves to stabilize and/or as further HP to get in a last heroic spell, or lunge or what have you. You might be able to get off a Magic Missle (or fireball if you are high enough level and/or have the stat mods) and still make a death save or two. Do you dig into your PC's last reserves of power and potentially risk death? (due to lack of points to power death saves) or go out of action and play it safe rolling multiple death saves/stabilization rolls?

Or maybe you burn CON points to roll death saves/last gasp spells/actions and getting them back is not easily done.

Clerics would not cast spells that cure HP/E/V- instead they would be casting healing spells that cure conditions/ afflictions- poison, ghoul fever/paralysis, diseases, etc. They could cast "stabilizing" spells (and thus use their own HP to power a death saving throw for the PC), but with a per day limitation- maybe once per day

If you go unconscious but save/stabilize, maybe that gives you 1HP or maybe you are just OOA for the duration. Since you only have 1HP you wouldn't be able to pull much off anyway, but...
 
Blades in the Dark has a system similar to this.

Every character has 9 stress to spend. They can spend 2 stress to increase their chances to succeed on a roll by adding a d6 to their dice pool, they can spend 1 stress to help another PC and add a d6 to their pool for a roll, and they can spend stress to activate special abilities.

When they spend all 9 stress, they’re out of play for the remainder of the score (mission).

How this ties to HP is that when a PC would take harm, they can reduce it by spending stress. The cost is 6 minus the results of a die roll. So resisting harm can cost from 0 to 5 stress.

The system works really well. It really puts decisions in the players’ hands, and they have a lot of influence on how a PC may be removed from action. Spending stress or saving it in case you’re harmed is a big decision, and it’s a really fun dynamic.

This idea for HP reminded me of Blades. It’s a worthwhile idea for sure.
 

schneeland

Explorer
I have contemplated a similar system - the main appeal being that it really adds to the immersion when casting spells is an exhausting thing (and similarly, special combat maneuvers and feints are), sometimes even leading to nose bleed or worse; it would IMO also work very well with 5e's fast healing (since you really recover from physical/mental stress than wounds).
Two things you might want to consider are:
  1. Maybe not all actions should require expending hit points/stamina (e.g. a simple attack or casting a cantrip doesn't) - then you would need less hit points overall
  2. Maybe powerful spells that exceed the level you can comfortably wield directly also physical harm (at least to some extent); similarly for desperate combat maneveurs

Or maybe you burn CON points to roll death saves/last gasp spells/actions and getting them back is not easily done.
I would indeed say you should burn your attribute scores and recovering them requires a doctor/cleric or extensive rest. That way there's no need need for another resource in the game. I'm inclined to say this might work better if you merge strength and constitution into a single body attribute, though.
 

JeffB

Legend
How about characters .... Paladin lay on hands (basically how it worked in 4e)
Yep that's a case where the points were exchanged- Maybe Lay on Hands could be giving the wounded character another death save attempt - The Paladin would "pay" for it with their own HP.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
Personally- in play I find it far more interesting than typical "resource management" like Vancian Casting, or per X rest, etc. It's much more simple . . .
HP could be called HP or Vitality or Endurance or whatever- Fighter maneuvers, Spells, Rogue maneuvers, some kind of crazy skill maneuver (a huge leap, etc) would be fueled by HP.

Once you are at 0 HP/Endurance/Vitality, whatever- you are now in trouble. i.e. into "meat". You now have a small "reserve" of points-maybe equal to your level, or level + con mod, or con mod + cha mod..something like that. These are used on a 1 for 1 basis for death saves to stabilize and/or as further HP to get in a last heroic spell, or lunge or what have you. You might be able to get off a Magic Missle (or fireball if you are high enough level and/or have the stat mods) and still make a death save or two. Do you dig into your PC's last reserves of power and potentially risk death? (due to lack of points to power death saves) or go out of action and play it safe rolling multiple death saves/stabilization rolls?

Or maybe you burn CON points to roll death saves/last gasp spells/actions and getting them back is not easily done.

Clerics would not cast spells that cure HP/E/V- instead they would be casting healing spells that cure conditions/ afflictions- poison, ghoul fever/paralysis, diseases, etc. They could cast "stabilizing" spells (and thus use their own HP to power a death saving throw for the PC), but with a per day limitation- maybe once per day

If you go unconscious but save/stabilize, maybe that gives you 1HP or maybe you are just OOA for the duration. Since you only have 1HP you wouldn't be able to pull much off anyway, but...
Doesn't sound simpler anymore, does it?

It might work for Cypher system, but it doesn't for D&D because of the whole "run out of hit points and die" concept. Since hit points are tied directly to character death, anything reducing hit points effectively becomes a cause of death. Special/cool maneuvers should be an extension of life - not a cause of death.

I have contemplated a similar system - the main appeal being that it really adds to the immersion when casting spells is an exhausting thing (and similarly, special combat maneuvers and feints are), sometimes even leading to nose bleed or worse; it would IMO also work very well with 5e's fast healing (since you really recover from physical/mental stress than wounds).
Two things you might want to consider are:
  1. Maybe not all actions should require expending hit points/stamina (e.g. a simple attack or casting a cantrip doesn't) - then you would need less hit points overall
  2. Maybe powerful spells that exceed the level you can comfortably wield directly also physical harm (at least to some extent); similarly for desperate combat maneveurs
I would indeed say you should burn your attribute scores and recovering them requires a doctor/cleric or extensive rest. That way there's no need need for another resource in the game. I'm inclined to say this might work better if you merge strength and constitution into a single body attribute, though.
You...just described my game. So if anyone's curious about what the schneeland's idea might look like as a full game, you're welcome to explore it here. To wit, making casting exhausting adds to immersion, a body attribute works better, and rest (specifically naps) is the best thing ever! :sleep:

For OP, the closest D&D equivalent might be to go back to the (largely forgotten?) 3rd ed. concept of spending XP as a resource. That way, there's an existing game concept to use as currency (for simplicity), characters can do cool things without killing themselves, and players still think twice about spending that currency.
 
Perhaps a two tiered approach. I'll use a spellcaster as an example - if they had mana X that recharged on a short rest, and HP that could also be spent, in extremis, to power spells that might be cool. Keep the mana total low-ish and I think it would work. It might work even better if total healing was capped by rest type, sat 1/4 HP on a SR and 1/2 HP on a long rest. You'd still run into trouble if you went full nova, but it's pretty manageable otherwise, and the spellcaster is forced into meaningful choices pretty quickly throughout the adventuring day.

I also think that using the exhaustion mechanic in there somewhere would be very cool.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
A few months ago, I came across a Dungeon World hack that was designed for Kids and people new to RPGs

The "Dungeons RPG" free download can be found HERE . It has proven itself in providing a non intimidating RPG experience for my wife and young daughter where other games such as very basic versions of D&D have failed. But on to the main point-

In "Dungeons"- Hit Points are not just traditional hit points but are also "effort" used to fuel die rolls, spells, etc. For example-. The spellcasters have "at wills" but spend hit points to fuel more powerful spells. Fighters can spend a HP to fuel great feats of strength , or a Thief on "sneaky" abilities (and the HP provides a bonus to the roll that will eliminate complete failure). Druids spend a HP to shapeshift, etc etc.

Personally- in play I find it far more interesting than typical "resource management" like Vancian Casting, or per X rest, etc. It's much more simple, and the resource pool is much more valuable to players and raises the dramatic tension "I can spend a HP now to make sure I do X, but I'm going to be lower than I want for that fight I know is coming"

So what do folks think about a D&D game where class abilities/maneuvers/feats/stunts/ spells etc were all fueled by ONE easy to track resource- Hit Points? Then certainly the "idea" of hit points as drive/luck/endurance and their loss and quick return upon resting would make compete sense in the context of the game (though the term "hit" still does not).

P.S- Happy New Year all!
You know, they did this with force users in the first wotc Star Wars, and I gotta say I didn’t enjoy it.

I think I’d prefer to have a resource like vitality, and then have getting taken out of a fight be totally parallel to that resource, or indeed any point resource.

that is, let vitality fuel action, and let injury, something like a condition track, and saves against being knocked out, fuel “taking hits”.
 

Undrave

Hero
A few months ago, I came across a Dungeon World hack that was designed for Kids and people new to RPGs

The "Dungeons RPG" free download can be found HERE . It has proven itself in providing a non intimidating RPG experience for my wife and young daughter where other games such as very basic versions of D&D have failed. But on to the main point-

In "Dungeons"- Hit Points are not just traditional hit points but are also "effort" used to fuel die rolls, spells, etc. For example-. The spellcasters have "at wills" but spend hit points to fuel more powerful spells. Fighters can spend a HP to fuel great feats of strength , or a Thief on "sneaky" abilities (and the HP provides a bonus to the roll that will eliminate complete failure). Druids spend a HP to shapeshift, etc etc.

Personally- in play I find it far more interesting than typical "resource management" like Vancian Casting, or per X rest, etc. It's much more simple, and the resource pool is much more valuable to players and raises the dramatic tension "I can spend a HP now to make sure I do X, but I'm going to be lower than I want for that fight I know is coming"

So what do folks think about a D&D game where class abilities/maneuvers/feats/stunts/ spells etc were all fueled by ONE easy to track resource- Hit Points? Then certainly the "idea" of hit points as drive/luck/endurance and their loss and quick return upon resting would make compete sense in the context of the game (though the term "hit" still does not).

P.S- Happy New Year all!
I've been considering a similar concept (mostly to work with a Digimon RPG concept) but that use 'Stamina' as a currency separated from HP.

Stamina could be spent to raise your defence when attacked, or even to make your attack roll higher, and of course to fuel special moves. You could take action in combat, similar to dodge, to restore SOME stamina if you didn't do anything else. This would make actual HP more precious because if you're out of stamina you would be likely to get knocked out in one hit. The strategy in combat would thus result in making sure you use your special move at the moment the opponent is vulnerable.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
Describing Cypher system in a quick post is not easy. It's by Monte Cook. You roll 1d20 to beat a DC. The DC is 3 times the difficulty level. Typical tasks are difficulty 2, Impossible tasks difficulty 10. You have three pools of "points" representing int, body and mind (I don't remember the names) and you can spend these points to reduce the difficulty of a task. If one of the pools goes to zero you are unconscious. two is dying, all three is dead. (I could be misremembering this.) There are also holdouts that you can expend to reduce the difficulty level. That's about all the mechanics. The rest is specifics. (Just like in D&D you roll 1d20 vs a DC. The rest is specifics.)
 

Dausuul

Legend
This would be a bad idea. It puts your "action resource" under the enemy's control. Every time the enemy hits you, your ability to act is reduced. This promotes a death spiral: When you are in a bad situation, and need to break out the big guns, you can't, because using the big guns will kill you.

Moreover, it means combat turns into a contest of alpha strikes. You are competing with your enemies for who gets to spend your hit point total: Either you spend them on your own powers, or your enemies "spend" them for you by whacking you. Therefore, the smart play is to burn recklessly through your hit points before your enemy gets the chance, and pray it's enough to win. And the enemy has the same incentive.

I'm not necessarily opposed to a "universal resource" to power all abilities, but hit points need to remain separate.
 
If you change the HP totals it doesn't have to be a death spiral. It would take some tinkering but I dont think it has to be the case, it just could be the case with poor design decisions. Other systems manage it just fine.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You know, they did this with force users in the first wotc Star Wars, and I gotta say I didn’t enjoy it.

I think I’d prefer to have a resource like vitality, and then have getting taken out of a fight be totally parallel to that resource, or indeed any point resource.

that is, let vitality fuel action, and let injury, something like a condition track, and saves against being knocked out, fuel “taking hits”.
If you change the HP totals it doesn't have to be a death spiral. It would take some tinkering but I dont think it has to be the case, it just could be the case with poor design decisions. Other systems manage it just fine.
The more I think on it, the more I think, why use hit points for taking damage, in such a system?

you get hit, you record that you’ve been hit. If you get hit by a stronger success (whatever that means in the system. In a dnd hack, it’d be a damage threshold?) you take an injury, and move down the condition track. If it’s a light hit, you move down the track every 3 hits. The end of the track is unconscious, at which point it works just like having 0hp.
 
The more I think on it, the more I think, why use hit points for taking damage, in such a system?

you get hit, you record that you’ve been hit. If you get hit by a stronger success (whatever that means in the system. In a dnd hack, it’d be a damage threshold?) you take an injury, and move down the condition track. If it’s a light hit, you move down the track every 3 hits. The end of the track is unconscious, at which point it works just like having 0hp.
If you could spend the resource in question on defense then that could work, sure.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If you could spend the resource in question on defense then that could work, sure.
Im not sure why being able to spend the resource on defense is necessary to such a system working, but I certainly like being able to spend resources on defense.
 

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