12 October 2011

Hit Points: In Plain Sight

You read all over the blogosphere about various takes, explanations, and rules on Hit Points and dying. I should include several links to demonstrate, but I'm far too lazy at this time of day.

Hit Points, in all their abstract forms, are a measure of one thing only: how much or often can you get hit before you're out of a fight. In fact, thinking of HP as a measure of the "size of the fight in the dog" would be far more accurate. This would eliminate the whole "dead at zero" or "dead at -X HP" nonsense.

Consider the battlefield movies you've seen where piles of soldiers lie bleeding and dying, but still alive. They're not able to fight anymore, but they certainly aren't dead. Once you hit zero HP, you're down but not necessarily dead. In mass combat, you're better off taking down your enemies, not stopping to finishing each of them off, hence the scene above. You COULD finish off anyone in that condition if only you weren't busy defending yourself from the next guy still able to hack you to bits with his sword.

How long it takes a character to die while in that state could be decided my their CON score, but actively trying to kill them should be immediate with no damage roll needed.

Why? The answer is hidden in plain sight in every version of the Basic rules, in the Sleep spell description.

From Moldvay (B17):

    " A sleeping creature may be killed (regardless of its hit points) with a single blow with any edged weapon. "

By extension, you could say any creature that was so incapacitated by being paralyzed, bound, Held, or even naturally asleep (the scene at the Inn in the Fellowship of the Rings?), would also be subject to the same fate.

In my games, then, I'd translate this as follows:

Any single blow that takes you to zero or fewer HP, takes the fight out of you and, more importantly, takes you out of the fight. In this condition, you can be slain with any single intensional blow from an edged weapon. If that single blow took you lower than HALF your CON, you will also die in a number of rounds equal to your CON score unless medical attention or magical healing is applied. Otherwise, you'll stabilize and, with the proper care and rest, will fully recover.

However, being reduced to zero or fewer HP will leave a lasting effect on you, again unless healed by magical or Clerical means. You might end up with a limp, a reduced STR in one arm, grotesque scars, loss of an eye or ear, etc. For Hirelings and the rank-and-file troops, this adds character and flavor.

But, heroes (the PCs), having access to magical and Clerical healing, will normally be free of such worries. This is why characters like Conan and the Grey Mouser, though occasionally sporting a stylish scar or such, are generally free from crippling or debilitating battle wounds.

This also works with "normal men" and 1st Level characters. How many times have you seen, in real life, or in a comics and the movies, where someone's taken out with a single pop to the nose? Classic example of a character with low HP. You can knock someone with an average CON on their ass ("taking them out of the fight") without coming close to killing them. That's a big justification for Wizards and other overly "civilized" folks only having 1d4 Hit Points. It also explains why, even at 1st Level, a character who got even a slightly higher-than-average HD roll is a big deal; you ain't gonna take them out with a single punch or blow.

I want to further expand on this but it's gone on far longer than I'd intended. I'm starting to sound alot like JB. ;)

19 August 2011

Re-assignment: Charisma

You know, I always START with D&D. But I have to "fix" this or that, and end up with something that isn't quite D&D anymore.

Others have mentioned shifting the Prime Requisites around, so it's nothing new. But in setting details for my Fractured Ways campaign, I ended up doing it for three of the four "Sacred Four" human classes, with only Fighters staying with Strength.

As Friar Dave did, my Clerics have Charisma as their PR. Wisdom never seemed very well defined, and I always thought that, despite what they might say, the true goal of any Cleric is to gain new converts. That sounds like a Charisma requirement to me.

Not only does this give Charisma a clearer purpose to Clerics, it now makes sense to use the Adjustment (positive or negative) for the one unique ability Clerics have; Turning. So, in my Fractured Ways campaign, the CHA Adj. applies to both the 2d6 roll to affect the Undead, but also to the 2d6 roll to determine HD affected.

Wisdom? Given it's amibiguous nature and nebulous effect, has been dropped for now.

14 February 2011

Fractured Ways: Treatment

This was an exercise in writing a story-line treatment that eventually led to the a whole campaign setting for my next B/X game. I wrote down random questions about the world and tried to answer them creatively.

This was the first draft. Many of the details of my campaign have changed since this draft, but this is where and how it all started.


Characters are started in dungeons, mazes, and caverns at levels 1-3 and don't
get into "wilderness" adventures until later levels.


Don't most people live above ground and travel in the wilds more often than
they delve underground?

Q: Why would this be?
A: Characters are part of a group of former slaves trapped underground.
Not just a small band. If they're going to have equipment and training,
they'll need a whole support structure. A whole communities were enslaved

Q: Why are they free to adventure, learn, grow food and study?
A: The creature/entity that enslaved them is gone.

Q: Did he leave on his own?
A: No, he's dead. He was killed by another creature/entity of similar power.
Maybe an enemy...maybe a war in another plane.

Q: Who was he?
A: Doesn't matter. He's dead and no one else knows these lost slaves are here.

Q: Do they know their slave lord is gone?
A: Yes, it's been at least two generations since anything or anyone has come
around to oppress them. Kobolds, Gnolls, and Gnomes were used as goons.
They still come around but are very disorganized and can now driven off if
a defense is mounted.

Q: Why were they enslaved? For labor? Food? Experiments?
A: They were labor and entertainment. Maybe tortured. It's made them dour
yet practical and focused on escape or rescue one day.

Q: Were they taken all at once? Were they one community before this?
A: No, they were taken from all over. Thusly there are peoples of various skins
tones and dialects. They all speak a common tongue now but accents
still exist. Because of several generations of cross-breeding, no racism
or culturalism exists. They are "one" people despite variation.

Q: How did the "fracturing" happen?
A: There were three base camps for mining in different but local areas. When
the Clerics had to split, they each took one of the three original books of
their holy works known as The Scriptures. By the time the slave lord left
and they came back together, a distinct dogma had developed around
each book.

Q: What happened when they re-united?
A: There was conflict and confusion. But due to a scarcity of resources, and not
wanting a full on war, the three High Clerics got together, figured out what
happened, and decided the best they could do was to decide that all were
equally valid parts of the same religion, distinct but each part of a
greater whole. The religeon now consisted of three Orders within one
religion that worshiped the same god.

Q: How do they grow food with no sunlight?

A: There is an abundance of fish is a near-by cave-lake. They grow
mostly mushrooms and water cress. A small crop of corn and
wheat is grown is a special cavern by the high priest Sky
Knights, since they can summon light that includes ultra-
violate light to grow these crops, as well as turn
Mycanoids. Five Knights much spend at least 8 hours making
this light in these special chambers each day.

Q: What about other classes?

A: Old ("pre-fractured") Fighters are allowed. Since thievery is
just isn't feasible in such a small community, and because
of the underground locale, any Rogues must be Delvers, even
tho that campaign hasn't been played yet, just allow rules
for that class only. Summoners (Circle Mages) are the
only Wizards allowed. Presumably, one or more of those
specialists were taken and managed to keep or hide books
containing instructions on circle magic. Only Teleport
circles are known, allowing remote areas, once explored, to
be accessed quickly. All other aspects of Circle inscriptions
has been lost and the Wizards can only be NPCs.

06 February 2011

Fractured Ways Campaign Setting

This blog will, for now, be a repository for my Fractured Ways campaign setting. I'll present most of this material in sections. House and optional rules while be in a separate Codex (if it ever gets so far as to actually see publication) from the Campaign material.

The Codex will assume B/X (or Labyrinth Lord) as the baseline rules, and all elements in the Codex will either extend or replace those rules.

I intend to have this start as a very basic campaign setting with the idea that elements will come from and develop in the campaign as I play it with my group.\

I'd love any thoughts or feedback along the way.

Play well...