What is a Wound? An attempt to bridge the divide.

pemerton

Legend
At 1 hp, he can't fight as well, because a lucky hit from a goblin can drop him.
But he can still climb, run, swim, etc just as well. For some people, at least, that is an issue which gets in the way of seeing that he is really suffering from his wounds.

Part of the issue is that D&D has a very unstable mix of resolution systems - combat is resolved on a "plot point deletion model", whereas climbing and swimming are resolved on a Runequest or Traveller style "make a sucessful skill roll model". As is pretty notorious, the do don't mix effortlessly.

What the healing debate is partially getting at is an issue of pacing: how much time should be spent to get all of your resources back? IMO, this should be a longer timescale, because it reinforces the idea that each encounter is a small part of a whole.
If natural healing is on a weekly cycle, and healing magic on a daily cycle, the game will always default to high magic and clerics/wands/potions etc.

If you want a long cycle on health resources, you have to apply this to healing magic or you won't get it. And once healing magic is on the same cycle, it would make sense to put all other spells on the same cycle (assuming we're going with Vancian "slots").

Anything that can do HP damage can kill you.

So anything that heals HP damage needs to be able to actively remove things that can kill you.

<snip>

If HP damage can kill you, then HP healing can undo fatal things.
This is a non-sequitur, as the following example illustrates: Falling can kill you; but it doesn't follow that anything that can mitigate the consequences of a fall has to be able to stop you dying. Because not every fall actually kills you.

Also: resting is not something that can actively remove things that can kill you. Resting cannot undo fatal things. You need medicine or (more likely, particularly when we're talking about swordplay) surgery. So the logic of your position is that there should be no natural healing of wounds. Burning Wheel approximates to this approach, but I think that would be too harsh for D&D.

That is, if a hit with a sword deals HP damage, it can kill you. And if an effect heals HP damage, it can mend sword wounds.

<snip>

Even if everything but your last 1 HP is all luck and plot points, if a shout from a warlord heals HP it does undo the wound that drops you from 1 hp to 0. You don't just ignore it, you don't just power through it, it effectively never happened.
This is just begging a truck load of questions. If it can kill you, but doesn't, then (as I already said) alleviating its consequences need not require the ability to undo mortal wounds.

In the case of warlord healing, we don't know whether or not it killed you until the healing is also adjudicated. This is just like a poison save in Gygax's AD&D - we don't know if the stinger broke the skin until after the poison save is adjudicated - but it extends the period for resolution over a slightly longer stretch of gameplay.

It's possible to design a game without these assumptions, but D&D definitely has them
I don't thinkk that 4e, nor classic D&D played with strongly Gygaxian hit points, makes the assumptions that you spell out. But they are clearly instances of D&D.
 

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I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
pemerton said:
If natural healing is on a weekly cycle, and healing magic on a daily cycle, the game will always default to high magic and clerics/wands/potions etc.

Only with certain assumptions. For example, if you can only benefit from natural healing if you haven't been healed in the same day (and the rates are roughly similar), healing abilities become like an accelerated short rest: either one or the other, but not both. This cleaves a little closely to 4e's healing surge rules, but I kind of like it, personally. :)

And then there's the case that not everyone has a problem with that. That "high magic and clerics/wands/potions etc." IS default D&D for a lot of people. If 5e is true to its word that treasure is optional, it still doesn't fall into 3e's "I poke you with my feel good stick until you're better" trap, and a cleric needs to spend all of their spells on healing (which, if they didn't spend their spells on anything DURING combat, they might as well, I suppose).

pemerton said:
Falling can kill you; but it doesn't follow that anything that can mitigate the consequences of a fall has to be able to stop you dying. Because not every fall actually kills you.

I don't follow.

Falling can kill you. A pillow mitigates the consequences of falling. A big enough fall will kill you. A big enough pillow will save your life if you fall.

Or, a gilder.

Or, a pool of water.

Or whatever.

The things that mitigate the consequences of smacking into the ground too fast do stop you from dying from smacking into the ground too fast.

pemerton said:
If it can kill you, but doesn't, then (as I already said) alleviating its consequences need not require the ability to undo mortal wounds.
...
In the case of warlord healing, we don't know whether or not it killed you until the healing is also adjudicated.

This is part of what I sometimes call Schrodinger's Hit Points. Shortly, it's a problem when you decide after the fact that the attack was not potentially fatal. If D&D HP damage can kill you, you have to assume that all HP damage is done with the potential to kill, or you enter a position where you don't know what the HP damage represents until someone tries to heal it, at which point you invent some justification for why that healing works.

That gets things entirely backwards from how the rest of the game is played, wherein the DM-player call-and-response is based on each one establishing some information about the game world.

If the thing cannot kill you, it shouldn't be doing HP damage, because HP damage, mechanically, can kill you.

If the thing can kill you, then effects that restore HP need to undo things that can kill you.

In D&D, which relies on a call-and-response core dynamic, it's important to know how to call and respond, and that relies on a shared knowledge of the current state of the game world. There's problems for a LOT of people with an effect that cannot be defined until it is removed. It is like dithering in improv. Not making choices means that others cannot respond to your choice. Keeping things vague means that others cannot act on the information in the world.

Some groups have zero problem with this, and are more comfortable with a more gamist scenario where the game effect is justified by whatever fiction works, but that's not something that is necessary for a good D&D game, so the problems it DOES create seem far too vast to require that everyone play the game that way.

It is fairly easy to add back in once it's taken out.
 

pemerton

Legend
I don't follow.

Falling can kill you. A pillow mitigates the consequences of falling. A big enough fall will kill you. A big enough pillow will save your life if you fall.
But a pillow can't "actively remove things that can kill you" (by your standards, as I understand them, it offers damage reduction, but not healing).

Whereas what I had in mind is that, when my toddler falls over, she could die (from hitting her head on the footpath). But happily she hasn't yet! - and she is up and going again once I "kiss her better". That is to say, to mitigate the consequences of this fall I don't have to be able to do things that would stop someone dying (you can't kiss a mortal wound better).

When Aragorn dreams of Arwen (in the Peter Jackson version) and revives, he is not the beneficiary of a power that can prevent death. The point is that, while he might have been dying, he is not. And that is how warlord healing works in 4e (and second wind also, and in my view also all the "word" abilities).

This is part of what I sometimes call Schrodinger's Hit Points. Shortly, it's a problem when you decide after the fact that the attack was not potentially fatal.
I don't think it's a problem - though of course it's a significant feature of the ruleset.

AD&D had it too, with poison saves for example - you can't narrate the attack in full detail (did the stinger break the skin?) until the poison save is made. The Forge calls this "fortune in the middle", and characterises it as deferring the establishment of what is happening in the fiction until some furthter mechanical procedures are undertaken.

There's no doubt that the deferral in 4e can be longer (both in terms of ingame time, and mechanical procedures to be undertaken at the table) than in AD&D. But the principle is the same (which is why I've taken to posting "Schroedinger's Wounds!" every time someone who is critical of 4e posts in favour of AD&D-style saving throws - 3E, of course, changed saving throws to be much more like a skill mechanic without this sort of metagame dimension).

If D&D HP damage can kill you, you have to assume that all HP damage is done with the potential to kill, or you enter a position where you don't know what the HP damage represents until someone tries to heal it, at which point you invent some justification for why that healing works.
You don't have to make that assumption - for example, if the kobold hits and the PC stays up, you don't have to assume that the blow had the potential to kill at all. And if, as is often the case, the hit is not narrated in much detail, it won't per se harm the game to spell it out in more detail later if that becomes necessary ("You notice blood oozing out from under your armour - maybe that kobold hit you harder than you thought!").

If the thing cannot kill you, it shouldn't be doing HP damage, because HP damage, mechanically, can kill you.
Obviously. But if it doesn't kill you, then there's no need to narrate it as even potentially fatal if you don't want to.

If the thing can kill you, then effects that restore HP need to undo things that can kill you.
And I reiterate that this is a non-sequitur. Because if it hasn't killed you, then narrating its mitigation or overcoming (which is what restoring hp would represent) need only establish something in the fiction sufficient for such mitigation or overcoming, which need not be something capable of undoing the threat of fatality. (And this is a good thing for recovering-hp-by-resting rules, because as a general rule rest is not capable of undoing things that can kill you.)

That gets things entirely backwards from how the rest of the game is played, wherein the DM-player call-and-response is based on each one establishing some information about the game world.

<snip>

In D&D, which relies on a call-and-response core dynamic, it's important to know how to call and respond, and that relies on a shared knowledge of the current state of the game world.
I assume you don't treat the gameworld as a stop-motion one, even though this is how turn-based initiative presents it (especially in the playtest, with fewer out-of-turn actions than 4e or even 3E). So presumably you are deferring establishment of what actually happened in the fiction until every creatures has taken its turn - or something.

In fact, not even as simulationist a game as Runequest or Rolemaster satisfies your description of the establishment of the details of the shared fiction, because you don't know where a combatant aimed until after a hit is achieved and hit location is determined (in RM's case, via the roll on the critical chart plus the shield breakage roll).

Again, I'm not saying that 4e is not different. It is. But the difference is not one of radical kind. And therefore, saying that things can't be that way, or must be some other way, if the establishment of the shared fiction is going to proceed properly, is not true. (And that's putting to one side the many other RPGs besides 4e that have robust fortune-in-the-middle mechanics and are not known for being weak on story, like HeroWars/Quest, Maelstrom Storytelling, etc.)

There's problems for a LOT of people with an effect that cannot be defined until it is removed.

<snip>

Some groups have zero problem with this, and are more comfortable with a more gamist scenario where the game effect is justified by whatever fiction works, but that's not something that is necessary for a good D&D game, so the problems it DOES create seem far too vast to require that everyone play the game that way.
This has nothing to do with whether or not designs can or can't work, and can or can't achieve GM-player-GM "call and response" play. It is just reiterating what is notorious, that a lot of people don't like 4e's fortune-in-the-middle mechanics.

That's a legitimate point, but I think it's a mistake to frame it in terms of what the mechanics must be if a certain sort of traditional RPG procedure is to work, given that there are many games that use the same procedure but lack your mechanical desiderata. HeroWars/Quest, Maelstrom Storytelling, Tunnels & Trolls and 4e all work on call-and-response, the same as AD&D and 3E. All have fortune-in-the-middle mechanics. And so do the latter two (saving throws and turn-by-turn initiative, respectively; and also hp, on the Gygaxian interpretation of them).

It is fairly easy to add back in once it's taken out.
I don't think this is necessarily true. My sense is that designing a game with good fortune in the middle mechanics is hard.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
pemerton said:
AD&D had it too, with poison saves for example - you can't narrate the attack in full detail (did the stinger break the skin?) until the poison save is made. The Forge calls this "fortune in the middle", and characterises it as deferring the establishment of what is happening in the fiction until some furthter mechanical procedures are undertaken.
I dunno 'bout you, but I never used poison saves in that way. If a character makes their poison save, they're tough enough to resist the poison, and if not, they're not. Either way, having to make the save to me always indicated that there was some real threat the character was responding to.

But you're getting to the crux of the matter: "fortune in the middle" is not necessary for D&D, and is very undesirable to a lot of people playing it.

I'd even say that "fortune in the middle" undercuts the very nature of call-and-response dynamics, but that's a different, broader case. For these purposes, it's enough to say that (a) it's unnecessary, and (b) it is strongly opposed, so that (result) it shouldn't be assumed as part of D&D.

The rest of the post goes into the details about the problem with "fortune in the middle" in general, so I've sblocked it off. The short version is that FitM suffers the same problems as an unreliable narrator. Which means it might work great for a game about madness and uncertainty, but is not great for most purposes.

[sblock=Design Wonkery]
pemerton said:
And if, as is often the case, the hit is not narrated in much detail, it won't per se harm the game to spell it out in more detail later if that becomes necessary ("You notice blood oozing out from under your armour - maybe that kobold hit you harder than you thought!").

Things like this are part of that "broader case" I was talking about, but it can basically be summed up like this:

If a core part of the rules relies on players being fundamentally unsure about the features of the world their characters inhabit, then the apparent reality of that world often becomes unsustainable.

pemerton said:
But if it doesn't kill you, then there's no need to narrate it as even potentially fatal if you don't want to.

Due to call-and-response dynamics, there is a need to understand what the effects of the hit are before one removes them. Inventing excuses after the fact is unacceptable for a lot of players, and unnecessary besides.

pemerton said:
And therefore, saying that things can't be that way, or must be some other way, if the establishment of the shared fiction is going to proceed properly, is not true.

Well, the caveat being, if you remain vague and noncommittal about what each call-and-response phase describes, you give yourself some wiggle room.

I would've thought the problems with fortune-in-the-middle style mechanics would be pretty obvious, and that their application in D&D would certainly be seen as superfluous at the least, but I guess I was wrong about everyone being on the same page about that. ;)

pemerton said:
Because if it hasn't killed you, then narrating its mitigation or overcoming (which is what restoring hp would represent) need only establish something in the fiction sufficient for such mitigation or overcoming, which need not be something capable of undoing the threat of fatality. (And this is a good thing for recovering-hp-by-resting rules, because as a general rule rest is not capable of undoing things that can kill you.)

In improv, it's easy to pretend to be a liar, or a deceiver, or a madman, or someone else with a fundamental problem with comprehending reality and acting in a realistic manner. It gives you all sorts of license to "take back" things, or to "be wrong" without breaking character.

In writing, it's easy to posit an unreliable narrator, one whose word should not be trusted, one who lacks comprehension or who wakes up and it was all a dream. It lets you say all sorts of things that you don't have to remain consistent or believable on.

The first advice when learning these crafts: don't do this. The thing you learn as you do these crafts: this is very difficult to do in a way that doesn't leave the audience feeling messed-with and annoyed and cheapened.

This applies to "fortune in the middle," too.

I mean, if you're going to use those mechanics, you might as well put them in a Call of Cthulu game, or something, where madness and unreliability are part of the feel. ;)
[/sblock]

pemerton said:
I don't think this is necessarily true. My sense is that designing a game with good fortune in the middle mechanics is hard.

Even if warlords don't heal HP by yelling right out the gate and extended rests take a week by default, those aren't hard things to put back in.
 
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As far as I am concerned you guys are arguing over personal assumptions that aren't going to be changed by walls of text. Both sets of assumptions are just fine. The problem is Next needs to handle both if it is to get everyone onboard and in its present state it doesn't support both IMO. Hussar had it right when he said have no default method but instead two (or three) methods to select from. Obviously people feel strongly about the subject. Clearly neither side wants their approach to be to "(optional)". This has become about as perosnal and group specific as stat generation (some people like arrays, some like roll 4d6 drop the lowest, others like point buy, etc). Best to say "okay there are two basic approaches to healing and HP in Next. Choose the one that works best for your group. They are A and B." Then all we have to fight over is who gets to be A and who has to be B:)
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Bedrockgames said:
The problem is Next needs to handle both if it is to get everyone onboard and in its present state it doesn't support both IMO. Hussar had it right when he said have no default method but instead two (or three) methods to select from.

He's right, but if the game includes any healing, it needs to figure out what's OK to include in the base game, and what it might want to add on as an optional element.

IMO, you want to avoid Schrodinger's HP to stat with (because shouty-healing and overnight rests restoring all HP are not iconic D&D elements, though they are valuable tools), and allow it to be added in if people want to.

If you start with Schrodinger's HP via shouty-healing and full overnight rests, you automagically alienate a lot of people who can't accept it. If you allow people to add it, those who like the gameplay elements it opens up can get into that without making those who can't accept it find another game.
 

He's right, but if the game includes any healing, it needs to figure out what's OK to include in the base game, and what it might want to add on as an optional element.

IMO, you want to avoid Schrodinger's HP to stat with (because shouty-healing and overnight rests restoring all HP are not iconic D&D elements, though they are valuable tools), and allow it to be added in if people want to.

If you start with Schrodinger's HP via shouty-healing and full overnight rests, you automagically alienate a lot of people who can't accept it. If you allow people to add it, those who like the gameplay elements it opens up can get into that without making those who can't accept it find another game.

The point is both are optional. There is no base system. It makes no assumptions about how most groups will heal instead (for lack of better terms) offers pre-4e style healing (long natural heals, no non magical healing) and 4e style healing (one day heals, HD or healing surges). This way neither side feels stepped on. It is a somewhat clumsy solution but it seems like the only one that wont result in year of debate. That way, both you and pemerton can run games you like.
 

Meeki

First Post
Who cares what other people define as a "wound" or what "hp damage" represents?

It only matters how you see the game, you can imagine a loss of 1 hp as having your leg cleaved off while someone else can imagine the same loss as a rat-pigeon barely missing you, causing a gentle breeze to lul you into a sleepy state, reducing your heroic capacity.

BLEH! Why does what players imagine need to be well defined when it has no bearing on the game mechanics?

Makes me want to vorp, vomit-burp.
 

AngryMojo

First Post
If you start with Schrodinger's HP via shouty-healing and full overnight rests, you automagically alienate a lot of people who can't accept it. If you allow people to add it, those who like the gameplay elements it opens up can get into that without making those who can't accept it find another game.

I think this winds up being the main problem with designing a "big tent" type game. No matter what you call the core, you alienate people. Canonizing the abstract HP with everything that can reduce your longevity in combat called "damage" while everything that prolongs it is "healing" turns off people who prefer the approach of "damage is always some sort of physical wound, no matter how small." At the same time, removing the concept of morale-healing (I greatly prefer this term to "shout healing" as it's far less derisive towards a given style of play) and having the more straightforward HP as physical wounds at all time approach being the core you turn off the people who prefer the abstract. Either way brings up serious questions to one audience or the other, and without the market research to back it up we have no way of quantifying the audience each approach caters to. We can't say majority with any sort of academic integrity, the most we can say is plurality and that term applies to both camps.

If a given group is so entrenched that they feel the game is a non-starter because of an assumption in the core rules, one that can be easily changed with a module, I doubt they'll wind up being particularly happy with any game. I understand this particular notion is rather extreme and most camps will accept a number of game mechanics they don't like rather than reject the game outright, but we've seen on these boards people who fall into that extreme of "I don't like one mechanic, therefore I refuse to play the game."

If the argument is what mechanics should be available, the answer is simple: both. The modular system encourages this. If the question is what approach should be core you hit the endless debate of what D&D "should" be, and that one little word spawns horrible debate and turns discussion into arguments. I'd say the question isn't "What should the core be?" so much as "Which approach is the simplest and most streamlined, the one that forms the best foundation?" If this means that neither of them are the core, instead both being modules with the core of the game emphasizing the two as different styles of play then so be it.

I think this argument really forms the abstract of D&D playstyles, is this a simulationist game in the sense that it's attempting to simulate a working fantasy world, or is it simulationist in the idea that it's trying to simulate heroic fantasy fiction? The solution is simple, put a term to both styles and preface elements that don't fit into a given ideal as such. For the sake of argument, let's call the two Physical vs. a Narrative style, where the simulationist-as-world-rules is Physical, while the simulationist-as-narrative-rules is Narrative.

Morale-healing is prefaced with the codifier "Narrative," indicating that it will likely not appeal to Physical players. Meanwhile a rule that only an attack that actually causes physical damage can drop a character below zero HP will have the "Physical" quantifier. If this divide is acknowledged during the base design of the game it's much easier to apply the philosophy.

In short, pleasing everybody is impossible. Pleasing people with firm stances that aren't extreme or radical but divergent still requires one to not take a stand, but be as moderate as possible with nods to both camps.
 

Herschel

Adventurer
Related to my above post (and perhaps clarifying it a little):

Anything that can do HP damage can kill you.

So anything that heals HP damage needs to be able to actively remove things that can kill you.

There's another HUGE problem with this outlook: not every attack is a kill shot, nor is it intended to be. If all you're going to do is mindlessly hack things to pieces then it may be closer, but that's not the game. There's always been subdual/non-lethal damage accounted for in HP. You want to question the guy, not feed him to the worms, so you hit him with the flat, knock him down, sap him, whatever. That's HP damage that does NOT kill an opponent.

So not anything that can do Hit Point damage can kill you, and not all Hit Point loss can be considered a wound for even another reason.
 

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