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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:

The first significant innovation in the combat rules is the replacement of hit points by rolling a die to see if a blow incapacitates a character. This change happened because I noticed that hit points were a real drag on game play. When a player is writing down that his character has lost hit points, he or she is not paying attention to the game. Also, the only result of recording lost hit points is to bring the character’s death closer. Since the player rarely wants this, the tendency is not to write down the loss of hit points. Thirty minutes later, the GM remembers that he has hit character before, but the player has a tendency to forget. So a quick means of determining results that don’t need to be recorded seemed necessary. Hit points do have two advantages over rolling to see to see whether blows incapacitate a character. They allow for death by slow attrition, rather than by a single blow. Since death by slow attrition was a rare event in RuneQuest, I decided I could live with the elimination of this possibility.

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.

Edited by Questbird
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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, w

Fire and Sword does go down this route: there's still a roll but all weapons do about the same damage and armour protects a fixed amount. The reason I went with damage rolling is to make the minimum c

Return to hitpointless combat   For my Swords of Cydoria campaign I am going to use this hitpointless system (slightly tweaked from the OP above). My design goals are: fast, heroic combats using l

Why rolling the damage ? This increases the nr of rolls. There is no need for 2 random rolls to simulate the uncertainty of combat. I would suggest to have a fixed damage for a weapon (2x average), add a fixed damage bonus (idem)- substract armour and roll vs. resillience.

e.g. Bog the big troll, maul 18 (2D8), damage bonus 14 (2D6), total 32.

Uzuor the thane, broad sword 11 (1d8+1), damage bonus 5 (1d4), total 16.

You may like to adapt the numbers, but this is the idea.

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Why rolling the damage ? This increases the nr of rolls. There is no need for 2 random rolls to simulate the uncertainty of combat. I would suggest to have a fixed damage for a weapon (2x average), add a fixed damage bonus (idem)- substract armour and roll vs. resillience.

My idea was to pit the attacker's [(STR+SIZ)/2 + fixed weapon bonus] against the defender's [(CON+SIZ)/2 + fixed armor bonus] on the resistance table in order to determine if the defender is scratched, lightly wounded, severely wounded or fatally wounded (depending on the difference between the attacker's and the defender's levels of success).

Questbird's idea is different in that, since the resilience roll has only two possible outcomes (OK and KO) and the medical condition of a character that has been taken out of the fight is determined after the fight has ended (an interesting idea, imo) indipendently from the amount of damage inflicted by the attack(s), it uses random damage to express the difference between a normally, a specially and a critically successful attack. As an alternative, one might perhaps use three fixed ratings: (maximum damage)*0.5 for a success, maximum damage for a special success, and (maximum damage)*1.5 for a special success. From one of these ratings one would subtract the armor's maximum protection and pit double the difference against the defender's resilience on the resistance table.

Edited by MatteoN
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Why rolling the damage ? This increases the nr of rolls. There is no need for 2 random rolls to simulate the uncertainty of combat. I would suggest to have a fixed damage for a weapon (2x average), add a fixed damage bonus (idem)- substract armour and roll vs. resillience.

e.g. Bog the big troll, maul 18 (2D8), damage bonus 14 (2D6), total 32.

Uzuor the thane, broad sword 11 (1d8+1), damage bonus 5 (1d4), total 16.

You may like to adapt the numbers, but this is the idea.

Fire and Sword does go down this route: there's still a roll but all weapons do about the same damage and armour protects a fixed amount. The reason I went with damage rolling is to make the minimum changes required for the system to work, without making all the weapons and armour tables invalid etc. It makes the GM's job harder, because the rulebooks can't be referred to by players accurately anymore. But the average fixed damage is a good idea.

The other reason for using rolled damage as the resisting attribute is that you can then easily apply the system for any other (non-combat) form of damage eg. fire, falling, acid or whatever crazy spot rules you have in your game, once again without having to rewrite every second rule related to damage.

Edited by Questbird
I thought of another reason.
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Questbird's idea is different in that, since the resilience roll has only two possible outcomes (OK and KO) and the medical condition of a character that has been taken out of the fight is determined after the fight has ended (an interesting idea, imo) indipendently from the amount of damage inflicted by the attack(s), it uses random damage to express the difference between a normally, a specially and a critically successful attack. As an alternative, one might perhaps use three fixed ratings: (maximum damage)*0.5 for a success, maximum damage for a special success, and (maximum damage)*1.5 for a special success. From one of these ratings one would subtract the armor's maximum protection and pit double the difference against the defender's resilience on the resistance table.

I'm not opposed to maths, but I would handle criticals this way: when resisting vs. a Critical hit the roll is Difficult ie. half chance. Don't double the weapon damage, since it's already being doubled to get a usable number for this system. That keeps the numbers on the human side in the middle of the Resistance table and stops criticals from being irresistable. Impales still ignore armour though. This also means that a critical has more chance of causing a major wound.

Edited by Questbird
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I have been tinkering with this for AEONS, too, based on my experience with skirmish-level wargaming rules which use individual figures (rather than squads or larger groups). There is definitely some simplification, which may or may not appeal to simulationists, but from my standpoint the trade-off in terms of smoother and faster combat is definitely worth it. And I consider myself firmly on the simulationist side of the fence, by the way, but I'm much more aware of how arbitrary most "simulationist" damage rules really are.

Ray Turney's Fire & Sword rules are great, I wish he was still around these intertubes to share his ideas.

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I'm not opposed to maths, but I would handle criticals this way: when resisting vs. a Critical hit the roll is Difficult ie. half chance. Don't double the weapon damage, since it's already being doubled to get a usable number for this system. That keeps the numbers on the human side in the middle of the Resistance table and stops criticals from being irresistable. Impales still ignore armour though. This also means that a critical has more chance of causing a major wound.

Right, you're only distinguishing here between success and critical success, I'd forgot it. I still prefer my alternative because it allows me to resolve a whole combat with just the d100, and because I find the (quite common in BRP) method of rolling dice to determine a number to use in another roll of the dice often unnecessarily time-consuming. I will pay some more thought to your interesting idea, tough (and maybe will try to hybridize it with mine).

Edited by MatteoN
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It is an interesting idea and does occasionally bubble up.

I've always liked the idea of a wound threshold. E.g. using the RQ6/Legend model you could have a value for HPs equal to something like (CON+SIZ)/5 rounded up. Probably around 5 HPs for most humans

Any damage which does less than the threshold in damage after armour is a minor wound of no immediate consequence.

Any wound which does at least the threshold is a serious wound which briefly stuns you. Then resist with Endurance immediately to be able to continue in the fight. (Remember RQ6 doesn't use resistance table so it pits attack roll versus "endurance roll."

Any wound doing at least twice the threshold is a major wound and you are incapacitated. Resist attack roll with endurance to avoid dying.

Afterwards you could have a table for lingering effects if you wished.

The problem with all these is the difficulty of bringing down high HP/AP creatures because you can't nibble them to death. It's not so bad in RQ6/Legend because you have special effects to bring down the bad guys instead.

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I enjoy using hitpoints as an abstraction a bit much for this, but a bleeding system with different damage dice based on wound severity and/or location would be wonderful for us simulationists.

Basically this system and hitpoints side by side in modified forms, where wounds of varying severity all cause their own individual bleeding.

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It is an interesting idea and does occasionally bubble up.

Afterwards you could have a table for lingering effects if you wished.

The problem with all these is the difficulty of bringing down high HP/AP creatures because you can't nibble them to death. It's not so bad in RQ6/Legend because you have special effects to bring down the bad guys instead.

I think Ray Turney was comfortable with that side-effect for his game. He figured that combat with huge creatures was a rare enough event in his campaign that he could live with the consequences.

Most times when my characters have faced huge creatures there *have been* fatalities; they are tough to kill even with the normal hit point system. However if you think about fantastic literature (eg. hercules, gilgamesh, siegfried etc.), heroes rarely kill huge creatures by nicking them to death over a long period, but by mighty blows or by exploiting their special weaknesses with cunning.

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I think Ray Turney was comfortable with that side-effect for his game. He figured that combat with huge creatures was a rare enough event in his campaign that he could live with the consequences.

Most times when my characters have faced huge creatures there *have been* fatalities; they are tough to kill even with the normal hit point system. However if you think about fantastic literature (eg. hercules, gilgamesh, siegfried etc.), heroes rarely kill huge creatures by nicking them to death over a long period, but by mighty blows or by exploiting their special weaknesses with cunning.

Skyrealms of Jorune had a very nice combat system that did not use HP but tracked cumulative wounds and severity, as well as their effect on subsequent actions. In my efforts to port Jorune to BRP, I am also able to reverse engineer things somewhat. When I get the combat chapter done, there will be an addendum that brings back Jorune's HP-less combat as an option. It should be fairly easy to apply it to any BRP based game.

Ian

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  • 4 months later...

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.

Worked example

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

Pirate Captain (from Elric! p.112)
STR 13 DEX 14 CON 15 SIZ 13 POW 16 Resilience 15 HP 14
DB +1d4 /(+3)
Rapier 110% 1d6+1+1d4 and Dagger 95% 1d4+2+1d4
Sea Leather and helm 1D6


See the first post for the suggested system and this example. I've been testing various ideas and re-running the same fight, and for those interested I'm posting a summary of the results here. I used exactly the same rolls in each scenario whenever possible.

Scenario 1
As listed above. Roll weapon damage, subtract armour roll, multiply result by 2.

Marine fights 1 pirate: kills him with one blow
Marine fights 2 pirates: they knock him out after 4 rounds (marine unluckily fails his Resilence roll)

Scenario 2
As Zit suggested above, I fixed the weapon and armour values at double their average damage/absorption value.
So, for example sea leather 1D6 gets a value of (3.5 x 2) = 7; Sea Axe 2D6+2+1D4 becomes (9 x 2) = 18 + 3 = 21, etc.

Marine fights 1 pirate: kills him with one blow
Marine fights 2 pirates: he defeats them in 6 rounds, remains undamaged
Marine fights pirate captain: Marine lasts 10 rounds before being brought down by the captain. During that time the Marine made 4x Resistance Rolls of 75% and failed the fifth. The pirate captain made one resistance roll of 60%, and succeeded. Additionally the Sea Axe made one resistance roll of 90% and the Rapier made one resistance roll of 80%.

Scenario 3
For comparison, I ran a normal fight with normal hitpoints

Marine fights 1 pirate: kills him with one blow
Marine fights 2 pirates: he defeats them in 9 rounds, has 3 HP at the end of the fight
Marine fights pirate captain: Pirate captain kills the injured Marine with one blow.

 

Scenario 4

This time I used maximum weapon damage (including maximum damage bonus) as the fixed damage, plus fixed armour:

 

Marine fights 1 pirate: kills him with one blow

Marine fights 2 pirates: he defeats them in 11 rounds, remains undamaged

Marine fights pirate captain: Pirate captain defeats him in 10 rounds.

 

Not having to do stunts with weapon damage, this appears to be my new preferred method.

Musings on the results
A couple of things came up, which my system does not yet account for. For example, what happens if you make a critical Resilience roll when resisting damage? Does it make your next Resistance roll Easy?

I also wouldn't mind factoring a temporary stun effect into the Resistance roll, but can't quite see how to do it yet, especially as my base system is Elric! which uses only 4 or at most 5 levels of success: impale (01), critical (20%) success, failure, fumble. At the moment I just use success (OK), failure (KO) and 'critical failure'* (Major Wound, additionally). If I were to change it to:
Critical success -- next Resistance roll you make in the fight is Easy
Success -- keep fighting
Failure -- stunned for 1 round
Failure with 0 or 5 on 'ones' die -- out of the fight as per normal failure.
Fumble, Major wound, additionally (makes Major Wounds very rare -- maybe move this one back to the old fashioned Luck Roll)

.. It might make fights last way too long. I'll continue to experiment with this system.

* failure with 0 or 5 on units die; 20% of failure chance but easier to calculate

Edited by Questbird
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I think something like matching damage vs. HP on the resistance table could help with the big critter problem.

With a roll instead of a threshold, a character will always have a chance of getting a successful result against a big creature. And also have a chance of suriving being hit by the big nastie.

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  • 1 year later...

Return to hitpointless combat

 

For my Swords of Cydoria campaign I am going to use this hitpointless system (slightly tweaked from the OP above). My design goals are:

fast, heroic combats

using lots of guns and swords without necessarily resulting in excessively messy player deaths

less keeping track of NPC hitpoints (they're up, or they're not -- morale is separate)

 

My main changes to the first take of the system described above:

Uses fixed weapon damage (the max for the weapon), as suggested by Zit

Allows for specials and criticals with similar effects to BGB.

 

Overview
When a combatant is wounded, instead of tracking hitpoints, the character makes a resistance roll of Resilience vs. maximum 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. Just use hitpoints for normal creatures.
Resilience check
Roll on the Resistance table: Resilience vs 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) indicates a major wound. A fumble always fails.
 

Effect of hits, specials and criticals

I'm using the definitions from the Big Gold Book here.
a normal hit (unparried)
does a base damage of:
maximum weapon damage + max. damage bonus - Armour rating (fixed)

Defender must make a Resilience check vs. this total
 

NOTE: guns can't be dodged, and primitive armour is only half effective against them (see 'Spot Rules for Firearms' BGB p.255)

a special attack (1/5)
has the normal effect for the weapon, ie. Bleeding, Crushing, Entangling, Impaling or Knockback as per BGB pp.194-7, with the following changes:
Bleeding
Instead of inflicting extra hit points, it requires a Resilience check each subsequent round at the same level as the original, until staunched (see BGB p.195)
Crushing
Base damage increased to the maximum for the next damage bonus level, as per BGB p.195.
Impaling
Doubles max weapon damage, as per BGB p.196. Armour still counts.
 

a critical attack (1/10)
attack ignores armour; resulting Resilience check is also Difficult
 

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. Weapons not designed to parry make a Difficult check. Exceptionally well-crafted or sturdy weapons might make an Easy check.
 

How injured are you?
At the end of the fight, make a CONx5 check:

 

+ critical or
+ special success - Healthy (knocked out by pain only)
+ success - Walking Wounded
+ failure - Badly Wounded
+ special failure (failure with 1 or 2 on the units die) - Dying
+ fumble - Dead

 

Wound states are as described in OP.

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For those with more interest in this subject they could check out True20 which uses a wound track with multiple levels.

 

Also True20s way of dealing with high hit point creatures is to allow the small creatures to combine their damage each round of course this means a swarm of bees can kill a man which isn't a bad idea.

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For those with more interest in this subject they could check out True20 which uses a wound track with multiple levels.

Also True20s way of dealing with high hit point creatures is to allow the small creatures to combine their damage each round of course this means a swarm of bees can kill a man which isn't a bad idea.

I like the swarm of bees metaphor.

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You know Questbird that I did two similar systems to this many moons ago, well a bit different

The first one was much like yours from my memory. Uncannily so in fact. I can't find my scratch notes, but I think it was quite similar, except I did not double the opposed damage roll, but instead halved the Hit Point value instead. I think each point of POW beyond POW 14 added +1 to the HP. But in most other ways I think it was near identical to your system.

The second system was a tad different due to it involving Hit Locations, so it would play a bit like RQ6 I suppose. I did find an old word doc that I had etched my thoughts into

It called for a 'Toughness' roll, which was Limb HP vs Damage on the Resistance Table. Every Point of AP reduced the Damage sustained as usual.

The main thing was that the failed roll had an outcome, rather than using the Limb HP as a declining tally. I wasn't sure whether to tie it to the RQ6 Fatigue Levels or not, or just to the usual outcomes regarding Hit Locations (excluding reducing the HP tallies themselves)

Willpower rolls (POW x 5%) were used to see if consequences could be ignored or reduced in subsequent rounds, but I was vague on this at the time. Perhaps just adding +1 to the Limb HP for every point of POW beyond POW 12 or 14 would have been the way to go.

Another more simple way would have been to just use Limb HP as thresholds. If exceeded, then the consequences apply, but not actual HP Tally reduction, just consequences. Not sure if that would make characters too powerful or not however.

Not sure how it would work in gameplay, as it was just a concept I had kicking around in my head after playing Savage Worlds and True20 for a bit and returning to BRP.

I guess something like this is a natural progression to the rules, and it would be interesting if a new version of BRP included this, even as just a optional rule to marking a HIt Point Tally (which is not a fun part of the game, and requires too much micro-managing on the part of the GM)

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I did a "hit point less" damage variant awhile back too, back before the gold book came out! In fact, I think one version of it is still up for downloading.

 

Basically, what I did was use the existing hit point values as would thresholds. Rather than ticking off points, the severity of the would was determined by if the damage exceeded a certain amount of total hit points. 1/4. 1/2,, etc. And I used a roll to resist the stun/shock effects of being injured. 

 

It worked okay, for the most part. Even big critters were no more of a problem than in the normal rules, thanks to the damage boosting effects of criticals and specials. 

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  • 4 months later...

Well, I plan to give it a whirl at my next Swords of Cydoria session. I'll let you know how it goes with my variant.

I can give a partial report on this.

While en route from Tagrum to Pyrnis via the Strangling Sea, the aeroship Tears of Chador was ambushed from the clouds above by a fast pirate aeroflyer. Nine pirates were aboard armed with cutlasses and ballistic pistols (powered by compressed air), and their captain was a skilled pilot who soon closed. Unfortunately for the pirates, the Tears of Chador was transporting a group of Norukarians, well-equipped with alien weapons. Two Norukarian nobles and their bodyguards had Plasma Pistols, and a cyberdroid (one of the PCs) was armed with the expedition's registered Plasma Rifle. Others had ballistic weapons.

So, the results were somewhat one-sided.

The plasma weapons had greater range and maximum damage than the ballistics, and were aimed with good skills. The pirates had wore ineffective armour. Within two rounds, five of the pirates had been taken out, and the pirate aeroship disengaged.

My observations:

1) It was quick to resolve the fight and continue play. I didn't have to use any special 'mook' rules to achieve the same effect.

2) It was easy to keep track of the pirates -- nine boxes; when I crossed them off, they were out of the fight. After a while of being punished their captain decided to flee

3) Because in this case the pirates were outgunned I can't yet say how the system will work in a 'fairer' fight. (But no one says life or RPGs are fair...)

More as the campaign continues...

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This seems like it would actually involve more work than tracking actual HPs. 

I can see a 'more realistic' side to not using HPs but the same results could be achieved if the Chronicler kept track of PC HPs instead of the PCs. 

Instead of "The minotaur brings his axe down on you for (1d6+2) + (1d6) =6 damage leaving you with 8 HPs." you secretly roll the damage, subtract from PC HPs, and announce "The minotaur brings his axe down on you, slicing through the skin of your chest. The wound, while not mortally grieves, leaves you stunned and short of breath. Until bandaged you continue to bleed and take a penalty to all physical actions for awhile."

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