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  1. #1
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    A lot of views in a single post!

    As for vitality point, my objections are totally different from yours (they
    have to do with instant-kill criticals from strong enemies), and I`ve
    already pointed them out twice, so I see no need to do so again. In sort,
    the damage range of a fantasy game is too great for vitality points to work,
    IMHO.

    As forthe rant against NPC classes, I started out with your opinion.
    However, I have since USED the system - and it actualy works fine. In a
    military campaign that I`m running, we have stock NPC soldiers with various
    levels of Warrior. These guys are great for filling out the squad - they are
    no pushovers, but unlike the full PC classes, they have only basic skills
    and abilities. They lack the special qualities that makes the PCs heroes.
    This means they rarely take over the adventure. When someone has to do a
    heroic effort for the squad, it is almost always a PC - but when they form a
    line, the NPCs are vital.

    As for them being less attractive - well, they are NPC classes. They are
    SUPPOSED to be less attractive. If what you wanted was a cool NPC villain,
    don`t use an NPC class. But his goons work very well as stock NPCs.

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  2. #2
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    A lot of views in a single post!

    As for vitality point, my objections are totally different from yours (they
    have to do with instant-kill criticals from strong enemies), and I`ve
    already pointed them out twice, so I see no need to do so again. In sort,
    the damage range of a fantasy game is too great for vitality points to work,
    IMHO.

    As forthe rant against NPC classes, I started out with your opinion.
    However, I have since USED the system - and it actualy works fine. In a
    military campaign that I`m running, we have stock NPC soldiers with various
    levels of Warrior. These guys are great for filling out the squad - they are
    no pushovers, but unlike the full PC classes, they have only basic skills
    and abilities. They lack the special qualities that makes the PCs heroes.
    This means they rarely take over the adventure. When someone has to do a
    heroic effort for the squad, it is almost always a PC - but when they form a
    line, the NPCs are vital.

    As for them being less attractive - well, they are NPC classes. They are
    SUPPOSED to be less attractive. If what you wanted was a cool NPC villain,
    don`t use an NPC class. But his goons work very well as stock NPCs.

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  3. #3
    Here is the wound/vitality system that I use....It has not been updated with
    some newer ideas but it covers some of the more tricky aspects (Sneak
    Attacks, Spells, and Falling). It also addresses Starfoxes concern about
    fantasy overpowering the Wound factor.

    http://www.mabinogin.com/Woundpoints.htm

    Eosin~

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  4. #4
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    From: "Eosin the Red" <Eosin_the_Red@COX.NET>

    > Here is the wound/vitality system that I use....It has not been updated
    with
    > some newer ideas but it covers some of the more tricky aspects (Sneak
    > Attacks, Spells, and Falling). It also addresses Starfoxes concern about
    > fantasy overpowering the Wound factor.
    >
    > http://www.mabinogin.com/Woundpoints.htm
    >

    The wound point part here looks reasonable - though it is very toned down.
    Many of my friends use a similar variant, where the number of negative hit
    points you can survive is equal to Con (possibly with a level modifier at
    very high levels). I see very little difference between such a system and
    your proposal here.

    An Armor absorption system can work, but not without some form of Defense
    Value. Otherwise, Power Attack become obligatory, and Base Attack becomes
    largely meaningless except as it applies to Power Attack. And if everyone
    uses Power Attack, we are basically back to the present system!

    Also, you table makes all armor a little worse - since the sum of the DR and
    Def Penalty is always lower than the present AC bonus. Full Plate offers
    only a +2 net bonus, for example! I think that the Def Penalty should only
    apply to characters improficient in the use of such armor - that is what
    armor proficiency is all about.

    On the other hand, you seem to have ditched the Dex bonus - not a good thing
    in my book.

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  5. #5
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    Stephen Starfox writes:

    > A lot of views in a single post!

    I try to pack in as much bang for the bandwidth that I can.... ;)

    > As for vitality point, my objections are totally different from yours (they
    > have to do with instant-kill criticals from strong enemies), and I`ve
    > already pointed them out twice, so I see no need to do so again. In sort,
    > the damage range of a fantasy game is too great for vitality points to work,
    > IMHO.

    Yeah, I can see that objection. It does, however, go to what I see as the
    merit of wound/vitality over hit points. Using hit points I`m sure we`ve
    all experienced those situations in which players have recognized the simple
    math of combat. "I can go at least X rounds with monster Z," and/or "It
    will take me X rounds to KILL monster Z given the rate of damage done and
    received." Using wound points that kind of metathinking is a bit less
    likely because ANY combat can wind up being deadly--or at least harmful--to
    ANY character. That`s what someone who uses a vitality/wound point system
    is going for.

    In BR, I think that`s more appropriate than in many other D&D campaigns
    because BR is often touted as a "low level" setting--whatever that means.
    (Whatever it does mean appears to mean even less in 3e since levelling up is
    generally faster.) Using vitality/wound points the unexpected can happen,
    which is generally the kind of feeling that occurs in D&D at low levels more
    frequently than at high levels. While I like to reward players for good
    play using a levelling up system, I personally don`t ever want them to lose
    that sense that their PCs could get killed. In fact, losing a PC or two
    from time to time might not really be a bad thing.

    > As forthe rant against NPC classes, I started out with your opinion.
    > However, I have since USED the system - and it actualy works fine. In a
    > military campaign that I`m running, we have stock NPC soldiers with various
    > levels of Warrior. These guys are great for filling out the squad - they are
    > no pushovers, but unlike the full PC classes, they have only basic skills
    > and abilities. They lack the special qualities that makes the PCs heroes.
    > This means they rarely take over the adventure. When someone has to do a
    > heroic effort for the squad, it is almost always a PC - but when they form a
    > line, the NPCs are vital.

    That again would appear to be a difference in DM style. I personally don`t
    want the NPCs to be vital. Significant, yes. Vital, no. The NPC classes
    in 3e strike me as being a strange mix of weakness (when it comes to class
    features) and survivability (because of the hit point system.) In my
    experience this leads to another buffer between the PCs and their opponents.

    Gary

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  6. #6
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    In BR, I think that`s more appropriate than in many other D&D campaigns
    because BR is often touted as a "low level" setting--whatever that means.
    (Whatever it does mean appears to mean even less in 3e since levelling up is
    generally faster.) Using vitality/wound points the unexpected can happen,
    which is generally the kind of feeling that occurs in D&D at low levels more
    frequently than at high levels. While I like to reward players for good
    play using a levelling up system, I personally don`t ever want them to lose
    that sense that their PCs could get killed. In fact, losing a PC or two
    from time to time might not really be a bad thing.
    Having the "unexpected" happen isn't really a specifically low-level phenomenon. In fact, I'd argue the opposite, and say that unexpected things happen far more often in high-level games, courtesy of scaling monsters and monster abilities - particularly insta-kill abilities and spells, like disintegrate, dominate person or the good old finger of death, monsters, fighters, and rogues being able to dish out hundreds of points of damage in a single round under just the right circumstances, and so on.

    I think the Birthright-specific problem may rather be in the lack of foes with these capabilities than in a system flaw; most Birthright campaigns I've been in have hardly been monster bashes - monsters are a "big event," unlike most other worlds. If the majority of combat encounters in Birthright tends to be with masses of thug-level characters, like goblin tribes or orog warbands, or dealing with ambushes or assassination attempts, then it is perfectly logical that combat boils down to a fairly boring routine. For a certain level of heroic flavor, I find that perfectly acceptable - King Arthur doesn't get maimed by scrub #659, he faces down Mordred in lethal combat.

    Either way you swing it, high-level D&D combats aren't inherently aren't inherently any less predictable than low-level ones; it's just that you must deal with a generally wider range of capabilities on the side of both hero and villain. In D&D proper, the most predictable levels in terms of combat outcomes may be the levels from 3-6 or so - the levels where neither side generally has any insta-kill capability, and neither are so fragile as to be killed in a single blow (as 1st-level characters can easily be). Of course, predictability may not be the proper term here, but I think the flaw is with the type of encounters that Birthright encourages, and the style of play that some prefer, and how that interacts with the D&D ruleset, rather than either the ruleset or style of play itself.

    Another way to discourage fighting and encourage roleplaying-oriented solutions is to simply up the ante and have major encounters be of an EL or four above the party level - so that the odds do not easily favor the characters. That's not necessarily an easy thing to do within Birthright, of course - so going the way of making PCs a bit more vulnerable can do the trick, too - but this, too, is perfectly well supported within the hit point system, with variants like 20-20-confirm-kill (only one out of perhaps 800 cases, of course).

    I agree perfectly in general that games get boring without a sense of menace to the characters - if no one ever dies, or if raising the dead is too easy, there's never a real sense that some day someone will fight their last combat. I just think that this is already pretty well supported by the existing D&D system or variants, if played as written, without modifying the core system itself. I've found that vitality/wounds points systems can sometimes produce far worse results than a standard hit point system - that of anticlimactic fights. "Yeah, I rolled really well and killed the Gorgon in one blow."
    Jan E. Juvstad.

  7. #7
    Administrator Green Knight's Avatar
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    I have been using a wound point/vitality system since 2E. Called it buffer points (vitality) and hit points (wounds) back then, and call it wounds and hit points now, but that`s not important.

    Using the AC system as a base, I calculate wound points as follows:

    10+size mod+str mod+con mod

    It gives a nice does of hp to big dragons and keep most PC at about the same level. Creatuers w/o Con have a +0 mod, but take no penalties from wounds. Chreatures w/o Str use their charisma instead.

    ...but what I was really going to say is:

    SW critical hits goes directly to wound points. A blaster pistol does 3d6/10.5 points of damage. Enough to send a character unconcious and dying with one hit. Other weapons are worse; lightsabers do a minimum of 3d8+Str bonus and have a good threath range. Saves against falling and other hazards determine wheter you take vitality or wound damage. Failing those saves can be lethal. In short, if you go for a "directly to wounds" critical system, be prepared for character death, unless there is magical healing to be had.

    It gets even more dangerous in a fantasy setting. The ogre and his greatclub can now send an unlucky PC to hell with one blow. Perhaps the fireball does wound damange if you fail the ref save? If you ask me, it is not necessarily a bad thing (and gives a nice gritty feeling to combat), but be prepared for some nasty things to happen with you PC (and the DM`s NPCs).

    A less drastic approach is to always require damage to wear down hit points before wounds are taken. This approach probably requires some steep penalties for taking wound points, like stunning and then staggering + ability damage (for example).

    I have used both systems, and like both approaches. It depends on the setting; I go for the latter in a heroic campaing and the former in a low-level down to earth one.

    B

    Cheers
    Bjørn

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  8. #8
    Whoops, that is a Wheel of Time Page; Defense is assumed. I would do it a
    little bit differently for BR.

    The DR table has been messed up and I have been to lazy to fix it. I did
    mention that I use more upto date rules in my Table Top :)


    Eosin
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Stephen Starfox" <stephen_starfox@YAHOO.SE>
    To: <BIRTHRIGHT-L@ORACLE.WIZARDS.COM>
    Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 4:15 AM
    Subject: Re: Vitality/Wound Points for BR.


    > From: "Eosin the Red" <Eosin_the_Red@COX.NET>
    >
    > > Here is the wound/vitality system that I use....It has not been updated
    > with
    > > some newer ideas but it covers some of the more tricky aspects (Sneak
    > > Attacks, Spells, and Falling). It also addresses Starfoxes concern about
    > > fantasy overpowering the Wound factor.
    > >
    > > http://www.mabinogin.com/Woundpoints.htm
    > >
    >
    > The wound point part here looks reasonable - though it is very toned down.
    > Many of my friends use a similar variant, where the number of negative hit
    > points you can survive is equal to Con (possibly with a level modifier at
    > very high levels). I see very little difference between such a system and
    > your proposal here.
    >
    > An Armor absorption system can work, but not without some form of Defense
    > Value. Otherwise, Power Attack become obligatory, and Base Attack becomes
    > largely meaningless except as it applies to Power Attack. And if everyone
    > uses Power Attack, we are basically back to the present system!
    >
    > Also, you table makes all armor a little worse - since the sum of the DR
    and
    > Def Penalty is always lower than the present AC bonus. Full Plate offers
    > only a +2 net bonus, for example! I think that the Def Penalty should only
    > apply to characters improficient in the use of such armor - that is what
    > armor proficiency is all about.
    >
    > On the other hand, you seem to have ditched the Dex bonus - not a good
    thing
    > in my book.
    >
    >
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    Hello, I guess I gotta have a sig.

  9. #9
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    I have used old 2nd AD&D PO: Combat and Tactics criticals to get more "realistic" combat to 3E. Everytime critical hit is scored, it deals normal critical damage and target is required to make fort save DC equal to damage dealt. If unsuccesful critical hit is scored and effect is determined from table. Addition to that, every time character/monster rolls to original threat range of weapon (excluding bonusses from keen and similars and improved critical) when determining if critical or not, critical hit gains an additional multiplier and new roll is made to see if additional multiplier is gained. Every additional multiplier adds +1 to effect roll of critical hit.

    This has worked pretty well in our games.
    I do believe
    Only Innocence can save the world

  10. #10
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    On Tue, 2003-06-03 at 14:41, Gary wrote:
    A while back we were discussing using vitality and wound points for
    BR. There are several merits to such a system; not the least of which is
    the "less cinematic" approach that that system of assigning damage seems to
    propagate. It has other merits, particularly for BR fans. The
    vitality/wound point system that I`ve seen come out of WotC, however,
    always had a couple of little faults to it that I didn`t really much like.

    1. Con = Wound points. Now, aside from the fact that this is the only
    occasion I can think of when the system uses an ability score itself as the
    basis of another stat rather than the ability score modifier, it isn`t a
    particularly elegant way of handling the situation. (I guess bloodline as
    an ability score is another example... but I have even more objections to
    that than to con=wound.) The range of con scores makes for a sometimes
    bizarre distribution of wound points. The low end of the standard range of
    3-18 is probably not that realistic a set of numbers since players rarely
    take on PCs with con scores under 8, but for the sake of the mechanic it
    makes for characters with a range of 600% in their wound points at 1st
    level. That`s pretty significant given that their vitality points can`t
    reach that high starting out.

    I use 10 + CON bonus|penalty for wound points. No CON bonus for hit
    points. Brings CON into line with other ability stats as a one time
    bonus. Keeps the range of Wound|Life|Damage (ability for human to
    weather real physical damage) reasonably small. Monsters get 9 + HD, for
    monsters with d8 HD, modified values for those with other. Non-classed
    humans rate as 1-1HD, and thus score as 8 points. Elves and dwarves rate
    as 1HD and thus score as 10 points.

    2. No New Wound Points. Wound points are, after all, just another way of
    assessing damage. What does 1 wound point mean? Nobody really
    knows. It`s an abstraction. When Luke Skywalker got his hand cut off by
    Darth Vader that could have been 1 wound point of damage. Who`s to
    say? Given that it doesn`t really make sense that the stat is as static as
    it is. Even if the point is to make things less cinematic that doesn`t
    mean that in a level based system one should ignore the effects of
    levelling up. So I figured in a change when it came to that sort of thing
    for the purpose of these rules.

    Totally agree. (Magic exceptions and special situations may increase
    wound points but +1 or +2 would be the absolute limit in any case)

    3. No vitality points for "common" NPCs. One of the things that`s always
    annoyed me about the NPC class idea is that I can`t figure out why anyone
    would really want to take one of those classes. OK, there is the rare
    circumstance in which one might want to start off with the skill points of
    the ???, and since there is no Noble PC class in standard D&D one is left
    with the aristocrat, but for the most part the NPC class system is a waste
    of time IMO. Especially since I can`t see any reason why a NPC would
    _continue_ to level up in those classes after gaining the XP to gain 3, 5,
    8+ levels. Plus, the classes lack utility, so NPCs wind up being
    unsatisfactory when one wants to develop encounters. Thus, the NPC class
    system gets used fairly rarely and has little real bearing on the
    game. This vitality/wound point system addresses not only the utility of
    NPC characters who take various classes, but also deals with why someone
    might have to take those classes.

    Well, I don`t totally agree, but do see where you are going. Anyone (any
    character - be they PC or NPC) will have "some" combat ability even if
    it is almost non-existent. Human NPCs are generally 1d6 hit points for
    active professions, 1d4 for sedentary, and 1d8 for those with some
    martial ability. e.g. sailor 1d6, scribe 1d4, bouncer 1d8.

    For the purpose of this system I`m differentiating between "heroic" and
    "common" characters, where heroic characters are more like what we`re all
    used to and common characters are NPCs who less access to
    vitality/wound. Aside from their access to vitality and wound points,
    however, there`s no difference between heroic and common characters. A
    common "minstrel" (the NPC bard) is just as musically talented,
    knowledgeable, etc. as a heroic "bard" but is less likely to get involved
    in heroic activities (rather, he`s less likely to survive such things)
    because he can get killed more easily.

    4. I haven`t written this aspect of the system up yet, but I`ve never been
    satisfied with how bloodtheft works--even in the original BR
    materials. Using vitality/wound I have a few ideas on how to make that work.

    IMHO, bloodtheft does no physical damage beyond that of being mortally
    wounded by a strike through the heart (as if that isn`t enough). A
    critically wounded, magically held or unconscious character (for
    example) is unable to prevent such a killing blow. Critically wounded is
    defined as having less than one-third of their life|wound points
    remaining.

    As a side issue, the level-drain of vampires, wights, life-stealing
    swords etc, does not drain levels but PERMANENTLY reduces a characters
    wound points (in addition to any actual damage or loss of hit points). A
    Vampire would reduce a characters maximum wound points by two on a
    successful life-draining attack. Any character drained to 0 in such
    manner becomes undead ... yada yada yada...(you know the drill).

    When I get the stuff on bloodtheft written up and perhaps more information
    on NPC classes that directly relates to BR material I`ll post that (or ask
    Arjan to put it up on BR.net since it will be more directly BR related
    then) but in the meantime I`d be interested in comments on the system as
    presented. Here`s the link:

    http://www22.brinkster.com/geeman/

    I`ll leave that up for a while--until I find something else I`d rather have
    up there....

    Gary


    Regular Combat:

    During combat any character under attack will be taking damage to
    their Hit Points. If a character has his Hit Points brought to 0,
    they begin to take Wound damage. If a characters Hit Points is
    reduced to 0, the character is in serious danger of being maimed or
    killed. A character that remains in combat with 0 Hit Points and is
    later attacked will deduct all damage from their Wounds until those
    also reach 0 - at that point the character is dying. If their Wounds
    are greater than their constitution modifier then they are dead.


    Two 7th level warriors slugging it out are more likely to inflict
    serious damage, and inflict it more quickly, than two first level mages
    - yet both are approximately evenly matched to their opponents. While
    total hit points are an absolute measure of luck, skill, experience in
    combat when two opponents square off the values are relative. Thus a
    character will take strike damage to their hit points only if they have
    a relatively higher current hit point total, otherwise they take an
    actual wound.

    This has very real consequences in terms of fantasy melee tactics:
    (i) You can`t "wear down" strong single opponents without taking
    casualties in real terms - people will get hurt.
    (ii) A single high level character will not exhaust their hit points in
    a drawn-out battle of attrition with an opponent of similar combat
    measure.

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