martedì 24 maggio 2016

Grognardo's Home Soups: regarding Ascending Hit Points!


I decided to start posting every now and again also in English, translating those articles I am more fond of. There is also some desire to reach a wider audience. Well, that is my start then. For those, english mother tongues, visiting this page, please forgive any grammar mistake. As we say: it is what it is!
Written the necessary introduction, let us move to the topic of today: Ascending Hit Points.
This rule was originally created, (as far as I know), by Andy Bartlett, in fact I read it for the first time on his blog Know World, Old World. I thought the idea was brilliant, as one of the issue I always had with Hit Points in general is the fact it results predictable for player to judge, according to his current conditions, if an encounter or trap can be deadly (I have heard of characters throwing themselves from a cliff, stating to the DM that the PC would have suffered no more than 10D6 damage, saving that way from another deadlier unpredictable danger).
In other words, with this rule we are trying to make players life more difficult.

From now on we are not talking anymore of Hit Points, but of Hit Dices. PCs, NPCs, and Monsters have a number of Hit Dices equal to their level (maximum cap is provided by character class obviously, so 10 HD for Wizards and Rogues, 9 for Warriors and Priests, etc). For example a Mage of 3rd level would have 3D4 (1D4 per level); a fighter of 10th level would have (9D10+3hp). 

Now that you know how many Hit Dices your character gets, you need to become familiar with the concept of Ascending Hit Points. Basically any creature has “zero” Hit Points when is healthy, and you need to record the hit points any time is wounded. So, if he receives 5 damages by a sword, you need to write 5 in your Hit Point box (supposed you were at 0 hit points before the encounter). In order to know if the character was able to sustain the damage without falling unconscious, the player has to roll the Hit Dices of the character. If we take back the sample of the 3rd level mage, he has to roll 5 or more with 3D4. If he rolls the result he is alive, otherwise he died in the encounter.
Another sample: a  4th level mage threw a 9 with 3D4, so he escaped death. Now he is falling in a trapdoor for other 3 damages. In order to survive he needs to roll 8 (5 damages from the sword + 3 caused by the fall) with 3D4. Again he needs to pass the test or die.
Do you find that cruel? Might be, however who does know which will be la hit causing your character to depart?
Typical cleric occupation, healing other members of the party.

However, there are several true advantages coming with this method:
·         Combat is much more uncertain, less calculation is possible
·         You do not have to worry when throwing the dice at character passage to a new level (no moans when your player rolls 1 with D12 for the  barbarian, potentially ruining the character).
·         With System Shock optional rule (see below) characters became more durable. You do not have the problem of Death Door rule that was severely limiting characters for 1 full day (2nd edition) or 1 week (1st edition). 

Here below, my personal additions to Andy’s method:
·        Constitution bonus --> instead of adding 1 or  more hit points per level, these bonus are re-rolls. Player can re-roll a number of HD equal to his Constitution bonus any time the character has to pass a check, the best result is always kept (so if a fighter re-rolls a 6 and gets a 3, the player can still stay with the 6)
 ·        Additional Hit Points after 9th/10th level à this time you go traditional,  high level PC can resist some damage before having to check their Hit Dices. HP addition, that way assumes a completely different meaning to players. That supply can be regarded as a bonus for high level characters.
·         1st level character à a character starts with 2 HDs, as normally he/she would have the maximum number of Hit Points at first level. Potentially, that means that a fighter can sustain 20 damages at the 1st level. So with this option, in the  example above the 3rd level mage would have had 4D4 instead of 3D4 to roll.
·         System Shock --> if you allow Death Door, then you probably think the method is a bit too punishing. So do I. I then introduced the System Shock roll: whenever your character falls to the ground due to a failed HD check, he is unconscious. He needs to pass a System Shock test to understand if he died really. The test to be passed is a System Shock percentage roll minus the hits he could not cover with the HD check. Sample: our 3rd level mage has Constitution 15, which means a System Shock equal to 90%. (2nd edition rules, first edition AD&D that would be 91%). He failed the check when he had to roll at least 9, with 4D4 he got a miserable 5! Now the mage is laying on the ground, but is not died yet. The player has a chance to save him, he just need to throw 86 or less with a D% (90-4 hits he did not cover with Hit Dice roll)
o   If he rolls 86 or less he still unconscious and will not be able to participate to the current scene, but still alive. Once the scene is complete, his companions can help him to gain consciousness. He will still have 9 HP and can act normally. With this rule any character with high Constitution can potentially suffer a lot of damage. Let say that even a mage of third level with 15 Con can sustain 30 hit points, before risking really to leave the adventure forever. The character would simply fall to the ground every time he is hit, not having the possibility to cover the damage he sustained with 4D4, System Shock might still save him. This way, even without a cleric the adventure may proceed without retiring to the town.
·         An even softer option is to allow the character to leave even if he/she miss the System Shock roll. Simple let the player retry the test for his character the round after with the Constitution lowered by 1 (and adjusting consequently System Shock percentage roll – in our example the character System Shock would drop to 88% minus the 4 hits not covered for a final percentage of 84%). Constitution points lost this way cannot be recovered unless a Wish or Limited Wish are used (check these rules on how to improve characteristics on Complete Wizard’s Handbook).
·         Multi-classes are a little more difficult to manage. i.e. A first level fighter/mage starts with a 1d10+1d4 DVs, a fighter/cleric 1D10+1D8. No need to double Hit Dices then, as they already get 2. The first class that passes to 2nd level gets another HD, then from that moment on this class gets HD any even level while the other any odd level. For example a fighter/cleric 4/5 has 2d10+3d8 HD. Three classes characters require more math: at first level you need to calculate the average of the HD. For example a fighter/mage/cleric starts with 1d8+1d6, then the first class that passes at the second level gets a new hit die. In our example that class is probably going to be the cleric (fighter/mage/cleric 1/1/2), our HD will then be 2d8+1d6. Then the next passage will probably be as fighter (fighter/mage/cleric 2/1/2), but the character will not get any HD. Same will happen when he passes at the second as mage. Once the character is a fighter/mage/cleric 2/2/3 he/she still has 2d8+d6, as the new passage as cleric does not provide any extra die; the new die must come from a different class. When the character is 3/2/3 he will have 1d10+2d8+1d6 (4d8 if you prefer). Then the new HD will be provided when the character is a fighter/mage/cleric 4/4/4 getting finally the d4 from the mage (for a total of 4d8+d4). And so on up to the class limits.

One last rule
You might think: nice, but do I need to test the HDs every time the character takes a hit? Yes, I know, that would be cumbersome. As a DM, I personally verify maximum characters possible Hit Points at the beginning of the session, then I calculate the 25%, 50% and 75% of those numbers. Those are the steps when I mandatorily ask for a test.
Then there are other occasions when a check is required, like:
·         Any time a PC fails a Saving Throw which causes loss of Hit Points
·     Any time a PC suffers a called shot at the head (ThAC0 with a -8 malus in second edition; 1 into 4 chance if character does not wear helmet in 1st edition)

5 commenti:

  1. Sincerely, I prefer the classic system.
    Or, even better, playing Rolemaster and that's that...

    1. Hi Luca,

      I think you should have a try. As you are a classic D&D player, this option, which works very well at low levels, fits even better for the basic version (no multi-classes, no death door, etc.). Rolemaster, as you know better than me, is a completely different cup of tea, even if, I admit, someway this option resembles a bit the ICE mechanism of Hit Points. Ciao!

  2. Thanks for making posts in English Mattia, I prefer this over google translate butchering your work.

    1. Hi there!

      It was a decision I made when I joined the community of AD&D 2nd edition on google. What was the point of being part of that, without bringing some contribution. From your words I unserstand my translation is betten then Google's one, then! That's a relief, think if I had spent all that time for nothing. ;)

  3. Liebster Award: