Thursday, September 1, 2011

Character Death, Hit Points and Healing

Hey, sorry for the break in the posting.  Been doing things other than role playing, to some extent, and trying to find a job...but anyway...

Listening to the guys on Fear the Boot over the last week or so and I have found that, even though I have listened to this episode several times, it got me thinking about things in a different way this time around.  I think that is also has to do with this blog post.

In the Temple game I am in, I have lost several characters.  It happens, it is that kind of module and the DM for the game is fair.  I was fine with my characters dying.  Yet, the frequency wasn't something I liked for awhile.  I have since grown comfortable with the character I am currently playing.  In other games, I have gone out of my way to kill my own character--a long story that I won't bore people with--and the DM refused to let me die.  By hook and by crook, he forced me to continue to live.  I had a small problem with it, but that stems from other issues in that game as well.

All that being said, something that I have come to think about is how hit points work and how death works as well.  In most D&D type games, hit points are not a measure of how much damage they can take.  Maybe Roger the GS has a point about them being a kind of morale system.  The only thing I disagree with is that first set of hit points, when you first make a character are actual, are a kind of gauge.  And, there is that rule in several editions of D&D about if you take fifty points of damage from a single attack, there is a chance the character can keel over from shock as well.

So, what is my point?

There is a certain part of the podcast linked above when the guys talk about combat, and that combat should have a danger.  "Any time you pull out a gun or a sword, there should be a very high chance of death occurring."  (Not sure if that is a direct or paraphrase, but it is said somewhere.)  And then, later they talk about in D&D, "Then, after the battle, the cleric heals everyone and mend is used and everyone looks like they did before the battle."

This got me thinking.  Why is it we go along with the rules about healing without scars?  I suppose there is some kind of worry for some that their pretty warrior will look worse and not be able to woo the women in the tavern, but I for one think that the healing rules need to be amended.  There should never be a a way for the healing spells to take care of EVERYTHING.  There should be a price for going into combat.  A scar, a twinge of pain, a pulled muscle or something.  Yes this is one way to talk about all of those extra hit points after your core hit points, from now on called life points, and what those extra hit points represent.  The same thing goes for mend.  I don't think this cantrip should be able to fix all the scars from battle on clothes and weapons--I could be wrong about the weapons thing, don't have the spell in front of me.  The thrust of what I am trying to say is that combat needs to be scary.  Fighters know this, and this is why they are the fighters.  They stand up to the brutality and take those hits.

I think that from now on, in any game that I run, I am going to make life points and hit points mean a little bit more.  The cleric can heal you, but there might be a slight mark or twinge of pain because of the wound.  Resting and healing natural will get rid of these small issues.  In fact, I think I can work up a table of some kind that will help show what kind of detriment such minor problems can cause if left untreated.  Besides, the way that the clerics cast spells, they almost never heal you fully with one spell.  They have to cast it several times to get the hit points back to full.  Unless you go back to town, or find a nice safe place to sit and rest in the wilds or in a dungeon.

Until next time, I will try and get the table up soon, goodnight all.

1 comment:

  1. Scars and long-term wounds are interesting but ultimately annoying simulative effects. I only utilize them as a GM for narrative color. Whenever a character recieves enough damage to trigger some sort of "massive damage" saving throw or "system shock" roll, I figure it leaves a lasting mark.

    Additionally, if a PC willingly takes damage for some sort of "story" reason, like putting their hand into a burning forge to save a vital "MacGuffin", then a scar is a fair quid pro quo. ;-)

    I've always disliked it when GMs throw out disfigurement willy-nilly in the name of "realism". An occasional scar to mark a significant event, as listed above, is fine, but earning three notable scars per game session is tedious. YMMV.