I need some help from mah peeps

May 22, 2009

Okies readers, question for you:  Would you like to see the concept of hit points totally revisited to include injuries, or would you like hit points to remain just hit points — the number that goes down to show exactly how injured you are.

I ask this because I’m currently working on designing HP for my own pen and paper roleplaying game, and have two different concepts lying on the table.  One is the HP & Injury idea, where HP exists, but the focus is instead on injuries that can plague the character for long amounts of time.  This system makes the game much more complex, including different penalities for different types of injuries.

On the other side, my vision statement preaches simplicity and ease of access.  System 1 does not provide that, but instead provides an innovative mechanic that is innovative for the sake of being innovative.  Not the best reason to include something.  So, System 2 is just HP.  No other fancy additions, just some straight HP.  Perhaps injury can still be counted in this sytem, but it’s nowhere near as complex as the first system.
Comment away guys… I’m really interested in hearing your personal opinions on this one.


  1. Perhaps the Exalted-esque approach is the way to go. You could have the PC’s develop dramatically appropriate injuries at certain percentages of max HP (say 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4) and each additional level of injury takes X more time units to heal.

    I’d leave the specific types of injury at each level at “dramatically appropriate” but highlight a list of penalties for each region of the body (head, chest, arms, legs, waist, etc). This gives some sort of creative control to the GM and will (hopefully) keep each combat fresh and varied.

  2. I would say that it all depends on what type of setting you are having in your P&P Rpg, if it’s something along the lines of a dungeoncrawl monster bashing i would use just HP. But if it’s with a focus on ROLEplay then a more complex Damagechart would be prefered. In a game where fighting is common then simplicity is prefered, but if combat is rare, then complex is nicer. Since fighting always should be a dangerous thing to do, why not have a complex and wellthough dmg chart, that can cover things like sprains to broken bones and even severed limbs.
    As a GM I would use the more complex dmgchart, player characters do something outright stupid they are bound to get hurt. Leaping from rooftops to rooftops and one PC misses his jump roll, then he is bound to break a leg or worse if the fall is high enough, not just loose a set amount of HP from his character sheet.

  3. I agree with Joe Mello on his idea of having penalties for each region of the body. I also agree with Victor that if your game has a lot of fighting, complexity might not be as good of an idea. I think you could include injuries or wounds in either setting, just make them last half as long and half as complex if there is a lot of fighting. For instance in a game with a lot of fighting, a goblin slashes you and his dagger is a little rusty so for the next 4 turns you have 15% less HP or take 5hp damage every turn for the next 4 turns. If there isn’t much fighting then you could increase it to 30% or 10hp.

    Of course those values will have to be tested and refined to fit your game, but, theres my 2 cents.

  4. Ahh I didn’t mention that the values would have multipliers applied to them in the more complex scenario depending on which part of the body was hit.

  5. A step similar to the vitality/wounds system might work. So you have your “HP” that dwindles away, keeping combat fast, but when a character is low, they begin to take actual physical harm. I use systems like this for everything I do. I like vitality (the idea that the attacks don’t necessarily hit you but are close enough to “tire your spirit”) because it explains why a naked man is still alive after I’ve been swinging my axe at him for two minutes. Once a characters vitality is gone the attacks can begin to target specific body parts or whatever.

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