So I'm trying to think of a way to design a system without the use of HP. I want it to be hyper lethal and modular so that it works with both modern and fantasy settings.
I only have the basis for an idea of stances and aimed points on a torso-head-arms-legs basis. There are critical points in each location, which are then rolled, and if a location is hit then the character takes a debug depending on what location was hit.
The closest thing to HP is your bleed out rate, which raises per wound you have and varies depending on what kind of wound it is.
So you roll tohit, hit location (varies depending on where you're aiming), and then roll critical location.
Would the extra steps make combat exciting enough? There'd be a lot of gore you could visualize of the dice tell you you get someone right in the stomach, after all.
Does Song of Swords do something like this?
What else can be done to stray a little farther away from HP chunks and bordelands shootemups?
>The closest thing to HP is your bleed out rate, which raises per wound you have and varies depending on what kind of wound it is.
>Does Song of Swords do something like this?
Flipping through, Song of Swords does do that, sort of. You have these wound tables that detail the effect of the damage (bludgeoning, cutting or piercing) on each body part. Attacks can sort of deviate between a few potential body parts. The damage is then reduced by armor and toughness, and whatever is left translates directly into wounds.
The wounds do pain, stun and bloodloss. Pain reduces your ability to fight in the long term, stun reduces it in the short term, and bloodloss causes your health to decay over time until you pass out and die.
There's also rules for infection afterwards, but that seems a bit extreme.
Damage is totaled upwards, and if you have damage, you need to spend your action dice on a "survive" action. If the total of your survive dice exceeds your damage, you're fine. Otherwise you become badly injured, and then incapacitated, and then you die.
While incapacitated, you can only take survive actions. Will you press on or take caution?
For this to work, inflicting even a single point of damage on someone should be a big deal.
I've been thinking of my own system based on accuracy and damage being rolled into one.
Say you have a sword with a to-hit value of 3d5+2. The target has an evasion value of 1d12, a shield of durability 2 with defense value 2, and chest armor of durability 3 with defense value 6. Let the target's evasion roll be 6 for all following scenarios.
You roll 2, 3, 2 on your attack with the sword aimed at the target's center mass. That's a total of 9, which bypasses the target's shield because it's higher than their evasion+shield defense, but it doesn't bypass their chest armor because it's lower than their evasion+shield+armor defense. The shield is the outermost piece of defense so it is on the lowest "layer" so to speak.
So the sword strikes the chest armor. One of the dice is equal to the armor's durability, so the armor takes a point of damage. What exactly a point of damage does to a layer is specific to the layer. In this case, we'll say it incurs -1 durability and -1 defense, with destruction of the layer occurring at 3 damage. If this was an axe, the other two die would go towards damaging the armor as well(assuming this is hard armor and not soft armor), but because a sword has the property of piercing both hard and soft armor, the remaining two dice get to move onto the next layer.
The target has normal human flesh, with a worthless durability of 1 and a defense value of 3. The flesh takes a point of damage, which causes the target to suffer some pain or HP loss or something. Next is the ribs, with durability 2 and defense value of 3. Defense value doesn't actually matter when tracking how an attack pierces layers though. The target has some broken ribs, which hurts them AND lowers the durability of their ribs.
Lets rewind. If the sword hit the shield instead, it would have pierced through the shield and started damaging the target's arm. The chest armor may come after the shield for the purpose of defense layering, but pierce layering is different.
This is pretty much what my homebrew is trying to do.
You roll damage as usual, which is reduced in various ways by armor, and this resulting number is then further reduced by the attacked characters constitution stat, which is modified by location and other stuff. If you have anything left over by this point, meaning you break through all their defenses, you inflict a major wound and the resulting number is added to a d10 and you compare the number to a bodypart- and weapon-specific chart to see what kind of wound you inflict. The worst wound you can inflict with sharp weapons for example is limb decapitation, while the "least" major wound you can inflict is a gash that bleeds, enough to be a problem if left open or exposed to dirt. The wounds in between are various debuffs, worse bleedings and leaving your limb unusable until it's healed, if possible.
If your attack goes through armor but not through their constitution, you inflict a major wound. This doesn't do anything except lower their constitution by one until it's healed, so there is a HP system in a sense, but it's only there to simulate "death-by-a-thousand-cuts" and major wounds will still be a more common cause of death, but minor wounds also makes major wounds more likely to occur, so there's that.
If you don't break through armor, the most you can hope to do is to daze, destabilize or push your opponent in some way, but that can be useful enough.
Not every hit, but I want it to be perfectly possible. If you get hit in the head with a hammer and it hits hard enough, you should die. Even if you're level 20 and have a thick skull, a guy bashes your head with an iron hammer, you're going to have a caved in skull.
Too simple, but on the right track.
These are closer to what I'm thinking of. I think I don't want damage to be so abstract of a thing, and keep things to a d20 or a d10 for "power inflicted" for every type of blow, and only have the weapon matter for inflicting a wound. There would be more emphasis on blocking and countering in close quarters, and shooting combat is based wholly in cover and flanking mechanics, while if you get hit it really just depends on whether or not you get hit in the right spot.
I'm not sure how to handle pain and being dazed, though. I also don't know how to handle armor at all. I could see being shot and having a vest on does blunt damage to the whole torso but...
Alright, so to explain a little more on what I initially thought. You declare your character to target a specific part on the body (head, torso, legs, arms) and then your skill of tohit will vary depending on your skill and the nearest body parts- so that way you're not aiming for someone's head and then you hit them in the right leg by some weird chance (or at least, it's much smaller). Then you roll your tohit, and if it hits your mark (let's say head) you roll percentile and it says where on the head it hits. If it hits you in the eye with a shotgun which on its power (1d10 for everything) was an 8 (direct hit), you're fucking dead, half of your face is gone.
Most of the game's combat influence would go into planning around rigging the initiative by concealment, cover, flanking, and ambushes. Other factors might change initiative too, but I'm not sure what.
Song of swords sounds like a really good game to look at for inspiration, but I want simulation.
>but I want simulation
So you want Song of Swords? I'm not really sure what more you want, since that's one of the most simulation style games out there at the moment while remaining playable. What specifically are you looking for that you don't think SoS has? It's better to build on something that exists and tailor it to your needs rather than start from scratch, if something close to what you want already exists.
Sounds interesting, but I think I'd work with a lot fewer layers. Maybe
and under Natural defense is the types of organ damage you can take based on how much damage and how many previous hits.
But I would still categorize it into those 4 to keep things simpler.
For example, a dire beetle counts as having hard armor and natural defense without the penalties associated in terms of weight, but they can never wear soft armor.
as compared to a human wearing platemail being generally heavier.
I mean, I know keratin can get pretty heavy when scaled up, but I'd waive it so that naturally evolved armor has their niche.
Have your players describe what they do, then decide the outcome based on the quality of their description. This has the benefit of being very free-forme and avant garde.
Should a disagreement arise you can alot your players "hero points" (say up to three) and have them spende one to initiate a "dice challenge" wherein they may overturn an unfavorable outcome provided the dice favor them.
Withe their lives almost completely in your hands you can keep the game exactly as lethale as you want it!
Going back to this, I forgot to mention how I envisioned parrying working.
>weapon has a durability and defense value just like a shield
>weapons don't accumulate damage like other layers; their damage resets after a delay unless they are destroyed in one hit
>this represents varying degrees of twisting the weapon out of the target's grip
>a pierce weapon will usually damage their hand too
Or at least, some would work that way. I guess weapons could work closer to everything else too.
Nono, I like that. I think the downside is either
>a general lower defense value compared to shields
>taking hand damage on bad parrying rolls.
I wonder how you factor in attacks that really ARE easier to parry rather than dodge/block.
These don't really seem to get away from the 'number that's an abstract of how much punishment you can take' issue, though. You still have hp in the form of bleeding out, right? It just seems like a lot of frankly unnecessary crunch, and gear durability has never been a good mechanic in any medium, ever. I mean really, if you want lethal, crunchy combat, just play GURPS with all the options on.
At a certain point, you're going to have something that in some sense looks like hit points, unless you just have a chance to die every time you get hit, or are otherwise unharmed. You need some score-keeping mechanism for how much bodily damage you've suffered, and to *some* cynical neckbeard, it's going to be indistinguishable from hit points.
I'd suggest for OP something like this:
You have a wound count and a shock count. You are assessed a penalty of (wound + shock) to most things.
When you take a hit with a typical melee weapon, you take a wound. Bigger weapons, critical hits, skills from the attacker, etc may add another wound or (more commonly) give a penalty to resisting the wound.
Then you can make checks depending on your armor/toughness to convert wounds to shock or ignore entirely.
Every time you take a wound, you have to make some sort of toughness check (modified by just wounds, not shock) or die.
Every round, you lose a shock point if you have any.
Treat it like a track, not a hit point total -- so you really go from "healthy" to "injured" (-1 to most stuff), to "badly wounded" (-2 to most stuff) to "maimed" (etc, etc), to just flat out dead at a certain (low) number of wounds. Maybe give someone a state above healthy if their toughness is superhuman.
The trick is to not have being hit with a weapon a case of "oh, I've got more hp, no problem" as opposed to "hopefully I can resist at least some of the wounds".
Not super relevant, but I actually really like HP systems when the HP is pretty low. It has to be handled carefully, though, with characters given chances to give themselves advantages, enemies disadvantages, and just avoid conflict entirely.
This would be a pretty easy way to do it. Just have a table with increasingly deadly results as the results get higher.
You could also do the Fate thing with stress tracks. Say you have five boxes , if you take a '3' wound you check that off. The next time you take a '3' wound it's already checked off, so you check a '4' instead, unless that's already checked, then you do a '5', and so on. Once you check off a '6' (either by a straight up brutal hit, or having all the other numbers checked off) you're incapacitated or dead. The track system is good for allowing minor hits to accumulate or a couple really good hits to be decisive. You can also attach penalties to each rank to have a death spiral mechanic, if you want it to be realistic.
On the rules-lite side, I once designed a system once where you had 3 HP and that was it. Each hit was assumed to be a solid 'I should go to the hospital' sort of blow. Depending on how well the attacker did, an attack could do 1, 2, or 3 damage. Better weapons didn't do more damage, it just made it easier to land those hits. Kind of gamey, but dead simple and easily conveyed the sense of danger.
Agreed, it's worth looking at Fate Core for inspiration. It's free, after all, so anyone interested in RPGs should read it.
You can even use the 'stress-less' variant, if you think they're too close to HP.
Take a hit? Either lose the fight or take a minor consequence. You're roughed up/bleeding.
Hit again, or hit for huge damage? Take a major consequence. Broken arms, bashed skull.
Hit when you already have a major consequence? Dead.
Use luck instead.
Several different options.
-use like AC, deflects blows or makds them miss
-Use like fate points. Pay points to reduce severity of wounds. Turn headshots into neckshots or grazes.
-literally change HP with Luck. Once you're out of luck, you start to take serious damage, and crippling injuries.
I played in a house ruled D&D campaign based on Norse myth where we had a similar rule. Half the party was maimed or dead in about 4 sessions. We quit after that and went back to traditional hit points.