Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hit Points and House Rules?

I'm of two minds about the original D&D hit points rules, and its descendant through different editions (and retro-clones.) On the one hand, hit points are simple to track, easy to understand, and easy to work with. A simple, abstract resource to manage. This is the part of me that likes hit points. There's danger, ease, abstraction. All have their appeal.

On the other hand, it's really freakin' easy for characters to die. Unless it's really hard. Injuries can be too abstract, and characters either fragile or not afraid of damage. Using OD&D or a retro-clone will solve some of the high end hit point problems. But the low-end issues are still there.

That's not quite what I want. Which makes me want to add some house rules.
  • Option 1 is from Robert Fisher's Lost City House Rules, in which characters who reach 0 hit points are not dead, but roll on an injury table, which reminds me of the way that Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay handles things. However, he plays it that 8 hours of rest for
  • Option 2 is to raid a book by my old friend T. S. Luikart, who was part of my old game group a decade ago. In the Skull and Bones rulebook he co-authored, they offer 3 ways around the low hit point issue: losing hit points then taking CON damage; having a random number of lives (think less of video games and more of a cat's 9 lives); and an injury table.
  • Option 3 is back to Robert Fisher and his Classic D&D House Rules. In this set of rules, he proposes that players at 0 hit points are not dead, but if his friends rescue him, he loses 1 point of CON.
  • Option 4 is that if a character is at 0 hit points, they must save or die.
  • Option 5 is the old characters die at some sort of negative hit points, either -(level) or -10 (per AD&D).
  • Option 6 is Mike's suggestion on a Dragonsfoot thread to use the FUDGE injury track as characters go below 0 hit points, which adds some mechanical effects of injury and some of the fudge room after 0 hit points so characters aren't quite so squishy at first level.
I need to mull this over, since I don't want to detract from simplicity of rules, but I also want some sort of swashbuckling flavor.