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For quite some time some of the ideas behind Ray Turney's Fire and Sword have been circulating in my head. One of those is hitpoint-less combat. Here's a stab at that system for BRP or its variants, which can be slotted in without completely wrecking everything. Why hitpointless? This is not going to be an exciting idea for the ultra simulationists or people who love hit locations. Hitpoints are an abstraction, and I'm suggesting replacing them with another abstraction. Here's what Ray had to say about it in his excellent design notes for his game: I would add that tracking hitpoints for NPCs in a big fight can be a pain too; better to know: are they still fighting or not? (note that this system is not the same as morale) For similar reasons I don't care to know whether this NPC or that is bleeding or has a major wound which will take him down in 4 rounds etc. Overview When a combatant is wounded, instead of tracking hitpoints, the character makes a resistance roll of Resilience (see below) vs. twice the weapon damage, after armour has been subtracted. If he fails, he is incapacitated for the rest of the fight. At the end of the fight the character will be in one of several wound states based on a CON check. Resilience Average of CON, SIZ, POW (or alternatively: (hitpoints + POW) / 3) a successful check vs. a greater damage gets you a check to increase POW at the end of the session. Justification: POW has no upper limit in humans. Willpower to survive can increase from a near-death experience. Resilience Check Roll on the Resistance table: Resilience vs twice damage taken (adjusted for armor). A roll of 01-05 for named characters only is always successful. Success means keep fighting, failure means they are out of the fight at the end of the current combat round. A critical failure (a failure where units die ends in 0 or 5) indicates a major wound. A fumble always fails. Critical hits Critical hits do not double damage. Instead, a Resilience check vs. a Critical hit is Difficult (half chance). Works for weapons too A critical parry vs attack success or critical attack vs. normal parry means weapon must resist vs. damage or be destroyed. Use weapon hitpoints for resilience. Justification: Ditto above for keeping track of weapon hit points. I just want to know, did your sword break or didn't it? How injured are you? At the end of the fight, make a CONx5 check: + critical success (success with 0 or 5 on the units die) - Healthy (knocked out by pain only) + success - Walking Wounded + failure - Badly Wounded + critical failure (failure with 0 or 5 on the units die) - Dying + fumble - Dead Medical conditions Healthy Character is in good shape Walking Wounded Character functions normally except that odd die rolls are reduced one success level, for all skill rolls except lore and communication skills. When a recovery roll is announced, make even die roll below or equal to CONx5 and the character gets better. Odd die roll above CONx5 and the character deteriorates to Badly Wounded/Out of It. Badly Wounded Character cannot walk unassisted or use skills. When a recovery roll is called for, make even die roll less than or equal to CONx5, and the character becomes Walking Wounded. On Odd failures the character’s state becomes Dying Dying Like Badly Wounded, except that a decline will be to Dead, and an increase will be to Badly Wounded Dead Cannot breathe, move, think, or fight. Once dead, you stop getting CON rolls to get better. Also, unless it is specifically stated in the spell description that a healing spell affects dead characters, it has no effect. Getting better (or worse) Recovery Roll Make a CONx5 roll even success - you get better by one level odd failure - you get worse by one level any other result - you stay the same. when you roll + at the end of the episode when you got wounded + each day thereafter + if you receive a successful Physick or First Aid roll from another player (doesn't work on dead characters) up to once per day. A critical Physick gives you two rolls. With a successful Physick you can ignore the bad results. A fumbled Physick means you roll and ignore the *good* results. Worked example I have one, but the post might be getting too long as it is. Oh what the heck, if you've read this far. If you haven't, skip to TL; DR below. A Marine faces Pirates on the deck of a burning ship. Marine (from Elric! p.112 STR 13 DEX 11 CON 14 SIZ 13 POW 9 Resilience 12 Sea Axe (2H) 50% 2D6+2+1D4, Dodge 50% Sea Leather and helm 1D6 Pirates (from Elric! p112) STR 12 DEX 13 CON 13 SIZ 12 POW 10 Resilience 12 Cutlass 45% 1D6+2 Dagger 40% 1D4+2 Dodge 26% no armor First the marine encounters one pirate Round 1. Pirate hits, marine fails to parry Marine hits pirate (no parry): he does 13 points with his sea axe 13 x 2 = 26, vs. resilience 12: the pirate has no chance. He goes down screaming Two more pirates leap forward round 1. One of the pirates grazes the marine for 1 point of damage 1 x 2 = 2 vs. resilience 12: automatic success for the marine, who laughs loudly round 2. the opponents jab at each other ineffectively round 3. pirate 1 hits the marine for 3 points through his sea leather 3 x 2 = 6 vs. resilience 12: marine has 80% but he rolls 87. He will go down at the end of the round but at least its not a major wound The second pirate also hits for 4 more points after armour 4 x 2 = 8 vs. 12: 70%; this one the marine succeeds with 60, but it won't help him. He gets his last attack, but misses. Fortunately the marine's buddies arrive and deal with the pirates. After the fight, the marine makes a CONx5 check (70%) and rolls 80. Oh no, it's not his battle. He is Dying from his wounds. Since the pirates have been defeated though it's the end of the episode so he can have another CONx5 check. He rolls 59, a success but an odd number, so he hangs on to life by a thread as his ship heads for home. Of course, this is a bit different from the outcome with hitpoints (the marine would have lost 8/14 points but would still be standing), but the marine was pretty unlucky. OK over to the BRP central crew. TL; DR Scrap hitpoints. Use a roll to resist damage: fail and you go down -- but you might not be dead. You could be anything from fine to dead; you find out after the fight.
So, I've been using a hitpointless combat system in my Swords of Cydoria campaign. It works well for battles with many mooks. However always inherent with this system is how to deal with huge creatures, whose size and strength makes them extremely resilient to damage. Now my characters have unleashed a Terax, a monstrous mutant reptilian thing in an ancient ruined city. Their weapons -- even plasma rifles and grenades -- are largely ineffective against it using this system (summary of the system in the thread below). My question is: how best to deal with large critters using this system? A few I've heard or thought of are: 1. The 'Swarm of bees' approach. All the damage inflicted on the creature by all its opponents in the whole round is added up and the monster makes a Resistance Roll against the sum. There could be a roll for each individual attack, but against the cumulative total of damage that round 2. Enforce the Resilience stat: use average of POW CON and SIZ instead of the lazy way of just CON and SIZ for monsters, on the assumption that most huge creatures won't necessarily have an enormous POW and therefore will be slightly easier to defeat 3. Just use the normal combat rules when dealing with large critters, which seems a bit of a cop-out or a failure of the hitpointless system, which otherwise seems quite promising so far. 4. Just laugh as your players are killed by unstoppable monsters (this is not really an option). I'd be interested to hear any of your ideas. Modelling these approaches Rather than answer my own post, I'll just add to it First, I'll introduce our nasty beastie: Large Reptilillian Terax Monitor Lizard of Great Size CON 37 SIZ 74 POW 2 Hit Points 56 Resilience 38 Armour (vs. guns) 3pt hide (normally 6) This has been disturbed from an ancient slumber and lets say it has been trapped in rubble, exposing itself to a perfect 'shooting gallery' for our intrepid heroes(?): Heroes, damage adjusted for armour 1. Norukarian Smuggler, Plasma Pistol (licensed), damage 9 2. Cyberdroid, Plasma Rifle (authorised), damage 21 3. Demetrian commander, Ballistic Pistol, damage 4 4. Guernan officer, Ballistic Pistol, damage 4 5. Norukarian noble, Plasma Pistol, damage 9 6. Bodyguard 1, Plasma Pistol, damage 9 7. Bodyguard 2, Plasma Pistol, damage 9 8. Targan soldier 1, Ballistic Rifle, damage 7 9. Targan soldier 2, Ballistic Rifle, damage 7 I'm assuming everyone hits the Terax this round. Scenario #0: Hitpointless System as written, using Hit Points (56) as target Chance of Terax survival 1. 99% 2. 99% 3. 99% 4. 99% 5. 99% 6. 99% 7. 99% 8. 99% 9. 99% Scenario #2: System as written, using Resilience (38) as target 1. 99% 2. 99% 3. 99% 4. 99% 5. 99% 6. 99% 7. 99% 8. 99% 9. 99% Scenario 1a: "Swarm of Bees" Cumulative damage, use Resilience 38 as target 1. 9 99% 2. 30 90% 3. 34 70% 4. 38 50% 5. 47 05% 6. 56 (01%) 7. 65 (01%) 8. 72 (01%) 9. 79 (01%) Scenario 1b: "Swarm of Bees" Use hit points 56 as target Shows cumulative damage and chance of Terax survival 1. 9 99% 2. 30 99% 3. 34 99% 4. 38 99% 5. 47 95% 6. 56 50% 7. 65 05% 8. 72 01% 9. 79 01% Scenario X: Normal hitpoints combat, Kill by attrition Actually this isn't normal at all, since maximum weapon damage is used in the hitpointless system So this would probably take twice as long. Showing cumulative damage 1. 9 2. 30 3. 34 4. 38 5. 47 6. 56 - Dead 7. - 8. - 9. - Analysis "Swarm of Bees" vs. hitpoints (scenario 1b) gives a similar result to normal hit point combat (scenario X). These results assume no critical hits, which make the resistance rolls Difficult. Swarm of Bees vs. Resilience seems a bit of a pushover. These creatures shouldn't be either easy or impossible to beat.