Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Death And Dismemberment Revisited

Ha ha! You are disarmed!
I haven't been blogging much lately, as you can probably tell. Still, I am busy enough, so maybe I can just update something here.

One of the things that I've done for the Middle Sea setting that I wanted to note is to incorporate some of the ideas that I had originally intended for the Black Blood of the Earth setting. It turns out that they won't be easily incorporated using D&D rules, but I've also been thinking about how to approach the setting as general fiction worldbuilding. So, I'll probably skip the Black Blood of the Earth stuff for the game, but the idea of a limited resource related to magic that is starting to run out is one that keeps drumming at the back of my skull, as it were. Whatever, this blog is mainly for gaming, at least for now. I might talk about it some other time, though, as I'm starting to play with the idea of using GURPS to play out some of the fiction and to give it a coherent "physics" of a sort. I am resisting the temptation to start a project of developing a dedicated game system for it, however. You don't know how hard that temptation is to resist.

A while back, I included a list of possible house rules for the Middle Sea or Terra Ultima settings. After thinking about those, I worked out some clarifications of some of them, some simplifications, and so on. I want to present here my current thinking on Death & Dismemberment.

In D&D, and explicitly so in AD&D, hit points are not meant to refer (at least exclusively) to physical damage. They represent a range of things, from fatigue, to physical toughness (so, in part to physical damage), skill, divine favor, and so on - or, put more simply, to the general staying power of a character. The thing is, though, that the rules as written don't support that concept well. Particularly, healing and the effects of damage are poor representatives of that philosophy of hit points.

As a result, some people decided a few years ago to experiment with ways of approaching what happens to a character when it runs out of hit points. What would happen, they asked, if instead of just running out of hit points and "going negative" (reducing hit points to negative numbers and starting a clock that runs out with the character dying by losing hit points every round while in negative numbers, sometimes with the ability to stop the clock by giving first aid treatment), hit points were a buffer against actual wounds? That is, hits that did "damage" points after the character had no more hit points would be rolled on a chart of wounds that would then affect the character. Among other things, this makes a character more survivable even with low amounts of hit points, since not every wound would kill the character. A number of such charts were quickly created, and a couple of published games used the idea for their versions of D&D-like games (ACKS is notable in this regard). You can find links to many of these tables here, here, and here.

I thought about the idea, and finally decided that I wanted my AD&D Death & Dismemberment table to interface with the Clerics' healing spells. That meant that there should be results of "Light", "Serious", and "Critical" to go along with the appropriate healing spells. The early version is in the house rules post I linked above, but here is my current version (conveniently behind a cut):