Levels, hit points, damage, and dying

Blankbeard's picture
July 7, 2013 - 9:29am
Levels, hit points, damage, and dying

Levels: Good, provide a rough estimate of PC power so you know how many quickdeaths you need to kill them.
I think the advantages of character levels outweigh the disadvantages so I plan to include them.  Levels determine what class abilities a PC has and how many skill ranks they can have.  NPC's hit chance and skill levels will have ratings like good, poor, excellent, and average that translate into bonuses in a straight forward way.  Most challenges the PCs face can be rated the same sort of way.

However, the whole world doesn't need to scale with the PCs.  If you do that, you might as well not bother with scaling at all.  If you decide that the weakest quickdeath is a level 6 creature, that's what it is.  That probably means that you should give lower level PCs a way around the quickdeath other than fighting it.  Similarly, the colony guards might be level 3.  They don't get better just because the players do.

Hit points:  I think I prefer fairly static hit points to scaling ones.  Not having to worry about scaling damage means I don't have to nerf low level weapons.  As an example, PCs might begin with 50+(Fitness + Resolve) hit points.  Creatures would have roughly the same hitpoints as stamina points in Star Frontiers but might have 4th edition style roles (Mook, Boss, Minion, group) that modify how many hitpoints they have and perhaps thier attacks as well.

d20 has an excellent set of conditions.  They can be a pain to keep track of so they might need an overhaul but in general they add a lot to the game.

I also like the idea of dividing hitpoints into stress/luck/blugeon and actual injury.  The first can heal faster and from different things (A tactician's rousing speech won't heal wounds but it might help someone push through the pain and fight on.)  More on this in future posts.

Weapons do a particular type of damage.  Lasers do laser damage and can set things on fire in certain circumstances but don't cause bleeding. Sonic weapons might do bludgeon or sonic damage that would have its own characteristics.  Most weapons would do inertial damage.  This would allow keying weapons to defenses.

I like the idea of having some sort of killing damage, some sort of subdual/bludgeon/stun damage, and some sort of stress/mental fatigue damage.

Star Frontiers has equipment that can preserve/bring back most dead characters.  I'm inclined to treat permanent death as something that happens but most of the time the character can be saved, provided he gets medical help in time.