[CONAN] Life's Blood and Condition

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Supplement Four
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[CONAN] Life's Blood and Condition

Postby Supplement Four » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:09 pm

We've got all these character conditions in the game. If you have at least 1 hit point, you're fully functional. If you're at 0 hit points, you're barely functional (disabled). If you're at -1 HP or below, you're not functional at all, unconscious, dying.

What happened to functional but hindered?

What about having your Speed reduced, or a -2 attack and defense because your hand just got crushed in that last block? Maybe your right eye is swollen closed.

It seems to me that it would easy to add a link in the hit point chain where these types of injuries could be imposed on a character. No more going from fully healed and functional at 1+ hit points to unconscious and dying after one more blow.

I'm thinking that when a character is reduced to 4 hit points or less, the GM should look at imposing a hindering penalty. Why did I pick "4" HP? I looked at a 1st level Commoner. He's got absolutely no combat training and uses a d4 for his hit die. Thus, if a character is reduced to 1-4 HP, the GM should impose a non-critical (not bleeding to death) hindrance that makes sense when considered with the blow that delivered it.

Therefore, the hit point chain will look like this:

5 or more HP? Fully functional.

1-4 HP? Functional but hindered or wounded.

0 HP? Barely functional. Disabled.

-1 or less HP? Unconscious and dying.



The GM could take this a step farther and create some type of more serious wound for critical hits that reduce the character to 4- hit points and Massive Damage failures.

Also, look at the "conditions" section of the rules. Blinded, Dazed, Dazzled, Deafened, Fatigued, Exhausted, Frightened, Nauseated, Panicked, Shaken, Sickened, Staggered, and Stunned are all hindrances that could result from the blow that reduced the character to 4 HP or less.

And, I think that a check might be in order to allow the character an out--something that allows him to avoid the hindrance/obstacle/challenge.





What we're saying, in effect, is that a character's "life's blood" is the 5 points of the 0-5 HP range. The rest is a measure of how well he can defense himself. A blow that takes the charactger to 4 HP or less is one that hit into the quick--that is, one that injured the character with a moderate type wound. It's not serious enough to stop the fight but it is bad enough to make the character use a penalty modifier.





Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

Caelis attacks Thrallan. Both are using a battleaxe. Caelis hits, defeating Thrallan's parry, and does 9 points of damage.

Thrallan is reduced from 11 hit points to 2 HP.

Well, this falls into the area we're discussing above. Given that Caelis was attacking and Thrallan attempting to parry, let's say that Caelis' axe shaft slammed into Thrallan's grip on his own axe, bruising or breaking his fingers and knuckles. Thrallan could drop his weapon--that blow probably smarts!

We'll give Thrallan a quick DEX check to attempt to avoid this fate of dropping his weapon. He rolls DEX vs. 9. The "9" we got from the damage. Oops, Thrallan failed the check, so he does, indeed, drop his weapon.

Next, let's get a read on how bad his fingers are hurt. CON vs. DC 9. Pass it, and he'll heal normally. Fail it, and the GM should maybe break his fingers or give him a strong bruise that takes longer than normal to heal. All the while, he'll have a -2 DM whenever he does something with that hand.



Thoughts?
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Postby Jeraa » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:30 am

So your average commoner (Constitution 10-11), who has at most 4 hit points, would always operate as "hindered or wounded", despite being at full health?

And this change still doesn't fix the whole, 1 hit takes you from fully functional to unconscious and dying thing. Yeah, it gives a slightly larger margin by setting the fully functional bar at 5 hp instead of 1, but its not going to make any real difference at all. In my 8 years of gaming with the d20 system, I can't think of any combat where this would of affected any of my or my parties characters. (Granted, thats a lot of combat. I could be forgetting something. Its possible.)

Now, if you wanted to do something like this, I would just throw out hitpoints totally, and use a condition track system., or a version of Vitality/Wounds. Personally, I think the Vitality/Wounds rules work nicely for Conan. Gives higher-level characters the ability to "absorb" some damage, but with critical hits ignoring vitality damage and going straight to wound points (damage not multiplied on a crit with the vitality/wound rules), even 1 hit can kill. And the rules I linked (granted, they are for 3.5 D&D, not Conan) also include this, which covers your "functional, but hindered" stuff:
The first time a character takes wound damage—even a single point—he becomes fatigued. A fatigued character can’t run or charge and takes a -2 penalty to Strength and Dexterity until he has rested for 8 hours (or until the wound damage is healed, if that occurs first). Additional wound damage doesn’t make the character exhausted.

In addition, any time an attack deals wound damage to a character, he must succeed on a Fortitude saving throw (DC 5 + number of wound points lost from the attack) or be stunned for 1d4 rounds. (During that time, any other character can take a standard action to help the stunned character recover; doing so ends the stunned condition.)
Also, at 0 wound points, a character makes a Fortitude save. Failure means the character is unconscious and dying. Success means the character is disabled, moves at half speed, and can only take a single action every round. And taking a standard action while disabled automatically moves you to dying.

I understand wanting more realism from the hit point rules. Problem is, the hit point rules arn't anywhere near realistic. Its just easier throwing them out and replacing them with something better than trying to patch them.
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Postby Supplement Four » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:17 pm

Jeraa wrote:So your average commoner (Constitution 10-11), who has at most 4 hit points, would always operate as "hindered or wounded", despite being at full health?
Well, they'd mostly likely be dead or dying, even from a blow from a 1st level character, because it's not hard to do 4 hit points of damage.

And, you're not really talking about an "average" Commoner. You're talking about a 15 year old kid who helps his da with the farm--as he'd only be 1st level. His farmer da is more like 4th or 5th level, with more hit points.

Plus, we're talking about someone who is not trained to fight at all.

Which is why I think "4" is a good number.


And this change still doesn't fix the whole, 1 hit takes you from fully functional to unconscious and dying thing.
I didn't want to make it impossible to go from alive to dying--I just wanted a chance for the middle step.
Yeah, it gives a slightly larger margin by setting the fully functional bar at 5 hp instead of 1, but its not going to make any real difference at all. In my 8 years of gaming with the d20 system, I can't think of any combat where this would of affected any of my or my parties characters.
That's kinda hard to believe. You've never had a character reduced to 2 hit points...or 3?

Now, if you wanted to do something like this, I would just throw out hitpoints totally, and use a condition track system., or a version of Vitality/Wounds. Personally, I think the Vitality/Wounds rules work nicely for Conan.
Yeah, I've seen that before. It's a nice option.
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Postby Jeraa » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:23 pm

Have you seen this? Granted, its looked at from a D&D perspective, but it would be the same for all d20 games, including Conan. The guy looked at the numbers as presented by the system (skill checks, ability checks, etc.) and determined that the average person would be 1st level; 2nd or 3rd if really exceptional. Olympic level athletes level 4, and Einstein would of been 5th level. So yes, by the book, I do assume the most common/average person in the world would be a 1st level commoner.

As for my personal experience. No, I can't ever remember having a character (past level 3 or so) go down to 1-4 hit points. They usually go from double digits down to negatives.
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Postby Supplement Four » Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:31 am

Jeraa wrote:Have you seen this? Granted, its looked at from a D&D perspective, but it would be the same for all d20 games, including Conan.
Yes. I've even started some discussion on the forum here a while back about those articles. Good stuff.


As for my personal experience. No, I can't ever remember having a character (past level 3 or so) go down to 1-4 hit points. They usually go from double digits down to negatives.
Unbelievable. I had a combat the other night where a charcter, using a battleaxe, did 1d10 + 5 damage, and he hit a character with 11 hit points, doing 9 damage. The victim was reduced to 2 HP.

And, that was the very first roll of combat.
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Postby vonOsk » Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:26 am

I DM Star Wars with the WP/VP system and both me and my group are very pleased with the system. It adds a little "realism" without breaking the flow of the game. And it gives a reasonable explanation for the RPs to regain hitpoints in a world without magical healing.
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Postby kintire » Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:01 am

Hitpoints make no sense. The only way they make even handwavey sense is if you assume that they represent "Fate" or "Chi" or whatever makes heroes heroes. They don't represent actually taking physical damage.

A way I have run it is to abolish the whole going to negative hit points, and rule that when you run out of hit points you take damage off CON. When you have taken any Con damage you are at -2, less than 3/4 you are at -4, less than half -6 and less than 1/4 incapacitated. 0 is dead.

Most NPCs have no hit points.
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:29 pm

:roll:
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Supplement Four
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Postby Supplement Four » Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:56 pm

kintire wrote:They don't represent actually taking physical damage.
They have to--some sort of small, abstract wounding. Otherwise, they wouldn't take so long to heal.

I think 2E Conan has one of the best descriptions of what hit points actually mean that I've ever read.

By extension, they do represent physical damage, and they do represent non-physical damage. They're an abstract way of expression small cuts, nicks, bruises, strained muscles, pulled tendons and other physical damage that is not critical. That's one reason why they take so long to heal--these types of things take time.

But, in addition to those minor physical traits of hit points, they also cover luck, expertise, Fate and the whim of the gods, fatigue, endurance, catching your breath, and all sorts of intangible, uncountable hindrances that can come into play during a battle.

The game doesn't specifically model that you twisted your ankle yesterday and, everytime you step on it, it hurts, but something like that would make you less effective in combat (thus you would have lower hit points than max).

And, besides that, hit points take into account that moment, right in the middle of your swing, when sweat drops into your eye, stinging it so much it autmatically blinks at the wrong instant, distracting you by just a fraction of a second--which can be deadly in a face-to-face combat.

Hit points are all this, plus the effects of that cold you're fighting off or the headache you have from last night's romp, all rolled together with all of your minor aches and pains and other distractions that would make you less effective in combat.

At least, that's what I think they are.
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Postby Jeraa » Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:12 pm

PrinceYyrkoon wrote:More rules where there doesn't need to be any.

If a character decides to continue on as normal, even though he has few hit points left, that's his prerogative. The GM can decide on NPC actions.
Thats not the problem. The problem is, by the rules, if you have at least 1 hit point remaining you are at 100% effectiveness. The next hit you take puts you in negatives, and you are unconscious and dying. That is fine for mooks, but the heroes (pcs) and the villains never act like that in movies or books. As they get more injured, they become less effective. They move slower, they don't swing their weapons as hard. That is what Supplement 4 is trying to model (I believe. Correct me if I am wrong S4), and that is what the hit point system can not do with the current rules.
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Postby Supplement Four » Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:23 pm

Jeraa wrote:Thats not the problem. The problem is, by the rules, if you have at least 1 hit point remaining you are at 100% effectiveness. The next hit you take puts you in negatives, and you are unconscious and dying. That is fine for mooks, but the heroes (pcs) and the villains never act like that in movies or books. As they get more injured, they become less effective. They move slower, they don't swing their weapons as hard. That is what Supplement 4 is trying to model (I believe. Correct me if I am wrong S4), and that is what the hit point system can not do with the current rules.
You've got it, Jeraa. By using the "4 HP or less" thing, there are times when a character will be run through. If he's got 11 HP and takes 15 damage, then he skips the smalls wounds and goes straight to unconscious and dying.

But, if the guy with 11 HP takes 9 damage, reducing him to 2 HP, we slap a hindrance wound on him--maybe he got hit in the thigh, and we'll chop his Speed in half for a while, picturing the character limp around.

This little rule puts in the possibility that a character will get a bruised hand, a bleeding cut, a limp, an swollen eye, a wound that gets infected and won't heal as quickly as normal, or some other hindrance like that into the game.
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:29 pm

:roll:
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Supplement Four
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Postby Supplement Four » Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:11 pm

PrinceYyrkoon wrote:I've seen countless conversations about this over the years, yet I've never seen a satisfactory alternative that didn't unravel during consistent playtesting.
How do you think my alternative will unravel?
The issues I see straight away with this are that the value for being 'bloodied' is arbitrary, and should, perhaps, be a percentage value of overall hit points, rather than a universal one...
Massive Damage is the same for every one...why not this, too?

And, what's wrong with "arbitrary". Does there need to be a chart for everything? A good GM can take this and turn a game on fire with it. And, by being arbitrary, rather than using a chart, the GM can customize the results based not only on the circumstances of the hit.

If the GM feels that he'd be bogging down the game with an elabortate "bloodied" arbitrary call, he doesn't make it. He still enforces the rule, but simply gives the victim a result that doesn't bog the game down. For example, he could simply the would will become infected, which will slow the healing time required, or require a Heal check, later in the game. Or, he could simply say that the wound will scar and maybe put a consequence on that later--not now when dealing with decreased movement or a -2 to hit would slow game play.

For those that insist on using a chart, the tweak lends itself well to that, as well. Simply say that, when a character is reduced to 4 or less hit points, the Permanent Damage chart from the Warriors Companion is used (or insert your own chart).


,Tweak the system with as many houserules as you wish, but it's best to remember that more rules do not, necessarily, equal more narrative.
And it should be noted that GM arbitrary calls will most likely make the narrative stronger.
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:38 am

:roll:
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Supplement Four
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Postby Supplement Four » Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:46 am

PrinceYyrkoon wrote:It begins to unravel when the characters reach mid levels because the difference, then, between having 5HP and 1HP is miniscule.
I'd argue that it's no different than at lower level. One of my 1st level characters does 1d10 + 5 with his battleaxe, while he only has 11 HP.

A high level character with 60 HP can be knocked to just 1-4 HP with a couple of blows.

In either case, once knocked to 4 or less HP, the next blow will probably kill them.

I don't see a difference.


And there is the absurdity of a 90HP character suffering no adverse effects until he loses 86HP?
That's not absurdity. That's a well-trained fighter defending himself properly. The 1st level guy barely knows how to hold a weapon.


And a 1st level character with 4HP, presumably, begins the game wounded (with a Permanent Damege roll to look forward to?).
Can only happen with a Commoner (or the unlikely even that a character has a very low Con with negative modifiers) , and a Commoner character will not be considered wounded until he takes a wound even if he does start the game with 3 or 4 HP.
Also, you'd probably have to rewrite pages 190 - 192 of the core book.
Not really. You use what it says and add a bit to it, not unlike an optional rule that could show up in a game supplement or magazine article.

The game, itself, officially modifies those pages with the Diehard feat.


Massive Damage may be the same for everyone, but the save against is not.
The "save" against the hindrance effect will not be the same for everyone either because the GM will make a judgement call on what happens and what check is needed to avoid the effect.

In the example above, Thrallan got a DEX check vs. the damage to keep his weapon in his hand.


And I'm not a fan of Permamnent Damage charts myself, because they only serve to impede PCs, (in the same way that spell point systems usually favour NPCs...but that's another matter).
Just giving one option of standardization if the GM judgement call is not accepted.

NPCs are effectively immune to Permanent Damage. Conversely, PCs will always accrue PD so that a party of mid to high level PCs will consist of characters with missing eyes, missing hands, etc.. It's not very appealing in a game sense.
Have you looked at the Permanent Damage chart in the Warrior's Companion? There's a major bug in how it is suggested to use the chart, but the chart itself is one of the best Crit charts I've ever seen. It will take a hell of a blow to do something really ugly to a PC. The chart is well written and PC friendly.


I think this is mostly attempting to force a square peg into a round hole.
If we can accept that 1+ HP is healthy and fully functional, 0 HP is disabled, and -1 HP or less is non-fuctional, unconscious, and dying...

...then why is it "attempting to force a square peg into a round hole" to accept that 5+ HP is healthy and functional, 1-4 HP is minorly wounded, 0 HP is disabled, and -1 HP or less is non-fuctional, unconscious and dying?

Especially when we can accept that the original rules can be tweaked through use of the Diehard feat.

It doesn't look like too much of a stretch to me.
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:38 am

:roll:
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Supplement Four
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Postby Supplement Four » Sun Apr 10, 2011 2:57 pm

PrinceYyrkoon wrote:I don't have a violent dislike to your suggestions SF, it's just that, if you want to put this kind of thing into practice, you're in for a rewrite of some basic combat rules, (close to death ones for a start), some feats and character abilities, a slowing down of combat, and added book keeping.
I don't see any of those things happening. If you were right, then I wouldn't implement the rule.

Which Feats will I have to "re-write"? Which basic combat rules will require re-working? Which character abilities?

And I've already address how the GM has control of the "gas pedal" if he feels the rule is bogging the game down.


And for what? A detailed system which may be entirely by-passed anyway, depending on the roll of the dice? I can see players becoming tired of it all fairly quickly, to be honest, because, as I say, it penalises PCs rather than NPCs, (e.g., everytime a low level scholar PC twists his ankle, we have to consult the Permanent Wound Table...).
I think the Perm Wound Table might be fussy, but the GM judgement just calls what he sees in his mind's eye, quickly.

And, the rule should be helpful to the PCs as well as a hindrance to them. In fact, the GM can be harder on the NPCs than he is the PCs with the rule, therefore making it something that will help the PCs survive in this very dangerous game.

Example: Bad guy Soldier takes a cross bow bolt to the shoulder, reducing hiim to 1 HP. By RAW, the Soldier keeps on going, getting another attack, possibly doing some damage to a PC. But, by my rule, the GM sees that the Soldier is in the "zone and decides that he's only 1 HP away, so the GM describes the Soldier as going down on one knee, bolt sticking out the back of his shoulder, blood dripping on the ground. He tries to pull it out, and the PCs hear this inhuman scream. He collapses in the dust, breathing heavily.

Boom, the NPC is taken out of the action. No need to give the NPC a check. Just describe what happens to him.

If things are going badly for the PCs, the GM can use this rule, in effect, to reduce the bad guys by 1-4 HPs each. That's a very PC friendly rule.




If the fight is going so badly for the PCs in the first place, they should be the ones to decide what to do, rather than have arbitrary negative mods placed upon them which attempt to force them into GM notions of 'game realism'.
As I described in the other post, the foot on the gas pedal belongs to the GM. If he sees a PC reduced to 4 or less HP, and he knows that slapping a strong hindrance on the character won't be fun, exciting, and challenging, then he just doesn't do it.

It's always the GM's job to keep the game interesting and moving along.

He still inforces the rule, but he does it in this case by having the character make a check at some later time for an effect on the character at some later time.

Next game session, after the fight, the PCs are binding their wounds. The guy reduced to 3 HP had absolutely nothing happen to him during the fight. But, now, while things are slow, the GM has him Roll a CON check. Failing means he's got a pretty nasty cut that will take twice the time to heal.

Boom. Rule enforced. Game not bogged down when the potentiental was there to do so.


And, once your players have encountered your new rulings, they'll treat 5HP as the new sauve qui peut threshold anyway, instead of 1HP, with no discernable game effect either way. All your extra work and book keeping for nothing, effectively.
The new what?


This brings us to another issue. If the Permanent Wound table from the Warrior's Companion is so minor in it's effects, (and it is, generally), why bother with it?
I'm not using it. I just offered it up as an alternative to GM judgement calls.


I'm hard pressed to find much of anything that will improve a game in the Warrior's Companion, and some of the stuff in there I would actively discourage people from using.
The WC isn't all bad. There's some useful bits in it. But, I think we are in agreement that the book is a dissappointment and has some flat out bad game rule writing in it.


I guess my reservations about any GM imposed 'realism' onto the D20 system are still based upon the fact that hit points are best not considered accurate reflections of actual physical wounds.
Again, they have to be.

Why?

When you lose them, it takes time for them to return--for the charater to heal.

Therefore, losing a hit point is a measure of the character gaining a wound.

But, what type of wound?

Hit points are an abstract way of qualifying very minor wounds without having to deal with the minutae of scratches and scrapes, bruises and sprains, cuts and pulled muscles.

If your character loses 5 of his 15 HP, it might mean he's got a bad bruise on his shield arm. Or it might mean he pulled the muscle in is calf when he blocked a blow. Or, it might mean the tip of his enemy's sword drew a scratch across his chest. Or some other like wound.

We don't have to keep track of the specific wound. It could be anything within reason. But, it's going to take him a good night's sleep to regain those points--which mean whatever wound he suffers from will heal itself on a good night's sleep.

...the arm feels better.

...the calf doesn't hurt any more.

...the scratch doesn't burn.

See, hit points do represent wounds, just not "specific" wounds.
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:12 am

:roll:
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Postby PrinceYyrkoon » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:17 am

:roll:
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Supplement Four
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Postby Supplement Four » Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:30 pm

PrinceYyrkoon wrote:Well, no they don't.
Then answer this for me.

If hit point damage doesn't represent real wound damage (in an abstract way, as I've described above), then why does it take so long for hit points to heal?

If you're not getting hurt with little, misc. wounds, then why don't hit points just come back right after you've rested? Or right after the fight is over?

Why does it sometimes take days of rest and the aid of a Healer to recover hit points?

It sure sounds like we're dealing with some sort of wound damage to me.

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