Saturday, October 26, 2013

R&D Update: Hit Dice and Hit Points Part 3

After we had converted to 3d6 D&D completely I had an idea in my head that I wanted to tinker with.  Using the previous system of rolling Hit Dice at every encounter instead of adding HP together each Hit Die would be recorded separately in your HP.  This means that with your 3 HD as a third level character if you were to roll 3, 5 and 2 you would record 3, 5 and 2 as your HP.  Seem strange or have you already figured it out?  You see by recording them separately when dealing damage you can treat each individual HD as a buffer protecting your life.  This means that if your opponent roll a 4 for damage, you the defender then assign that damage to one of your Hit Dice; should it be lower than that Hit Dice it bounces off ineffectually as you duck out of the way, if instead it is greater then the Hit Die is defeated and removed.  When you run out of Hit Dice you'll land yourself on Death's Doormat shortly.

Like any good system this has been through many revisions already.  There was some initial debate
as to whether the attacker or defender should assign how the damage is dealt.  After plenty of playtesting and a high fatality rate following Attacker's choice (recall that any PC is limited to a maximum of 3 Hit Dice with the Rule of Three) we opted for Defenders choice to increase PC longevity.  With Defender's choice and the prior example with HP of 2, 3, 5 it would be in their best interest to assign the incoming 4 damage to the 5 HP and have it bounce off, saving the PC from harm.  In this way a high HD will form an umbrella protecting the other Hit Dice.  That is until their opponent picks up a Zweihander and begins rolling two dice of damage.
Turn that Zweihander into a garrote while you're at it

When it comes to multiple dice of damage there was plenty of back and forth on how to handle them and what happens when you only have a single Hit Die left..  Some proposed that if you assign damage sequentially, each damage that bounces off a HD will lower the value by one.  For example with an HP of 5, and incoming damage of 1, 2, and 3; all three would bounce off but the HP would reduced by 1 each time.  This is another layer of death spiral which isn't a terrible idea but tends to be too much book keeping for my taste.  In the first layer the Higher HD is an umbrella for the lower HD and when it is defeated the remaining Hit Dice are weaker and will likely stave off only a blow or two respectively.  This means that after the highest HD is defeated the PC begins circling the drain but is not necessarily crippled.  With the above system, the Higher HD will be defeated much quicker since it deflates essentially each round leading to a faster death spiral.  This leads to a ticking death clock and I happen to like that (expect more on Damage Types later) however, there was a much cleaner option available.

The current model opted for something simple enough and intuitive that anyone should be able to recall it at a moments notice.  This fits in well with my overall design ethos which toes the line between depth and complexity with the guiding rule that any additional rule or mechanic should be obvious or intuitive enough that it can be kept in the back of your mind to be recalled at a moments notice.  The more time you spend looking up obscure rolls the less time you have to game.  With that said in this model if you have multiple damage dice assigned to a single hit dice, simply sum the damage dice.  Now as a result of a most recent playtest it is fairly likely that we will allow any player to sum his damage dice before catapulting them towards his opponents wall of HP.  Previously this could only be accomplished with specific weapons but this is being considered to speed up combat and keep player perspective from feeling shafted when dealing with a high HP opponent.

In my next post I'd like to examine how Armor interacts with the Hit Point / Hit Dice system I have devised.