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Vitality/Injury System

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Vitality/Injury System

Postby Draz » Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:26 pm

This thread is obsolete. Read the updated version of these rules here.

Introduction
Hit Points just don't satisfy me. I want combat to feel a little more realistic, a little more dangerous at high levels, and a lot more cinematic.

For example, in the Fellowship of the Ring film, Gimli gets hit by a troll and goes flying across the room. He's certainly not dying; he's not even seriously hurt or fatigued; but he definitely had something more happen to him than just losing "hit points." I want things like that to happen in my RPG combat, and I don't want the troll to need some fancy feat for it to happen, either.

To that end I've worked hard to make an attack/damage system where a wide variety of consequences can result from just a few die rolls. I'll warn you, this is the most complicated part of the CRE8 ruleset. To my shame, it's actually complicated enough that the results are best summarized in a Table. But hopefully I've managed to build it in a way that won't actually slow down gameplay much, once people are used to it.

Though the terminology is different, I actually based it on the Star Wars Saga Edition health system more than anything else.


Some "Behind the Curtain" Notes
There was an odd dichotomy in D&D, up until 4e: nonmagical attacks were mostly determined by a die roll from the attacker (attack roll), while magical attacks were largely resolved by a die roll from the defender (saving throw). That's ... workable, but highly counter-intuitive IMO.

4e took the logical step of removing this dichotomy, by basing all attacks on an attack roll. While I appreciate the sentiment behind this change, I think they got it backwards. Personally, I feel more involved in the game when I'm rolling a die to save my own skin than I do when I'm rolling a die to hurt someone else. And watching someone else roll a die to hurt me ... just doesn't even compare. Especially if I'm not badly hurt, a monster attacking me makes me think, "Oh, he declared an attack, but there's still a chance -- totally outside my control -- that the attack won't actually be hazardous at all." Psychologically, having defenders roll the most important dice gives the combat more of a dangerous feeling, like "Every attack is perilous. You'd better roll well or else that attack the goblin just made might destroy your lung."

So that's why I settled on getting rid of attack rolls and having all attacks provoke a save instead.


Basic Process
Here's how a normal attack in CRE8 combat plays out.
  1. Attacker declares attack and rolls the attack Impact.
  2. Determine whether target is Off-Guard.
  3. Target rolls a Saving Throw against attack.
  4. If the save failed and it rolled very low naturally, trigger "Peril."
  5. Target suffers all appropriate effects of the attack.

With me so far? Good. I'll describe each step in more depth.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Draz » Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:28 pm

1. Roll Impact
This should be pretty straightforward to anyone who's used to rolling damage. If you use a longer or heavier weapon, you'll roll a bigger die for Impact. If you have a high Brawn skill or are otherwise big and tough, you'll add bigger bonuses to Impact. Special abilities that represent delivering a really nasty blow (like Power Attack, Sneak Attack, or Arcane Strike) may add +1d6 to Impact. (Note, they will never add a non-die modifier to Impact; the number you add to your dice is always what's written on your stat block.)

2. Determine Off-Guard
Whether the target is more or less able to defend themselves will make a big difference in the result of the attack. Barring special abilities that give or prevent the Off-Guard condition, there are three main times that a target will be considered Off-Guard:
  • The target is surprised; that is, the attack happens during a surprise round, and the target failed their Perception check or other check to avoid being ambushed.
  • The attack Impact exceeds the target's remaining Vitality Points.
  • The target is paralyzed, unconscious, or otherwise helpless to defend itself.

3. Roll Saving Throw
Normally, the target rolls a Fortitude Save if she is Off-Guard, or a Defense Save otherwise.

The DC of this save is the Accuracy rating of the attack, as noted on the attacker's stat block. (The basic value of this Accuracy rating is 10+attacker's Fighting Level.)

The following standard circumstance modifiers apply to the Save made:
CircumstanceSave Modifier
Attack is made using an improvised or nonproficient weapon+5
Target is prone, flanked by attacker, or dazed-2
Target is Wounded-2
Ranged attack is made at medium range+2
Ranged attack is made at long range+5
Ranged attack is made at extreme range+10

Certain magical attacks force the target to roll a different save (e.g. a Willpower save against curses or enchantments) instead of Defense or Fortitude.

4. Test for "Peril"
Besides an Accuracy rating, an attack also has a Peril rating, determined mostly by the type of weapon used in the attack. The Peril rating is typically 1, but a few weapons have higher or lower ratings. (Higher ratings occur on weapons that would otherwise be sub-par, and are roughly analogous to expanded threat ranges of 3.5e weapons.)

If the target's Save against the attack failed, and the natural die roll of his save was less than or equal to the attack's Peril rating, the attack includes "Peril" in its consequences.

5. Attack Results
The target of the attack suffers the appropriate consequences of being attacked:

Save Successful: Check list below.
    Impact > Armor: Clobbered.*
    Off-Guard: VP damage and Wounded.

Save Failed: Take VP damage and check list below.
    Impact > Armor: Clobbered.
    Peril: Wounded.
    Off-Guard: Wounded and Clobbered.
    Wounded x2 (same attack): Dying.
    Clobbered x2 (same attack): Dropped.

* A number of special abilities will allow characters to avoid this consequence. This will hopefully keep combat from being too harsh to light-armored types.

Out-of-date Stuff:
4. Suffer Incidental or Normal Bad Stuff
This is where the system gets a bit complicated. The Incidental Bad Stuff, Normal Bad Stuff, and Extra Bad Stuff change depending on two conditions:
  • Is the target Off-Guard?
  • Does the attack Impact exceed the target's Armor Value?
Therefore, there are actually twelve possible results of an attack, which will be summarized on the table below.

Table of Possible Outcomes
Not Off-Guard : 
Impact !> ArmorImpact > Armor
Incidental (Save passed):"Miss": no effect"Miss": VP damage
Normal (Save failed):"Hit": VP damage"Hit": VP damage + Clobber
Extra (Peril):"Hit": Wound"Critical Hit": Stacking Wound
Off-Guard : 
Impact !> ArmorImpact > Armor
Incidental (Save passed):"Hit": VP damage + Wound"Critical Hit": VP damage + Wound + Clobber
Normal (Save failed):"Critical Hit": VP damage + Dying"Critical Hit": VP damage + Wound + Drop
Extra (Peril):"Critical Hit": Drop"Dire Hit": Death

Combat Conditions

No effect: The target dodges the attack with hardly any effort.

VP damage: The target loses Vitality Points equal to the attack's Impact. Vitality Points cannot be reduced below zero.

Clobber: The target is Staggered for one round. Alternatively, if the attacker is bigger than the target, the target can be knocked Prone, or Pushed away from the attacker one hex per size category difference.

Staggered: A Staggered character does not get a Move action on their turn. (They may still move by sacrificing their Standard action.) Staggering typically lasts only one turn. Multiple Staggered conditions generally do not stack.

Wounded: A Wounded character takes a -2 circumstance penalty to all Saves. Multiple Wounded conditions generally do not stack.

Stacking Wound: If the target is not already Wounded, it becomes Wounded. If it is already Wounded but not Staggered, it becomes Staggered. If it is already Wounded and Staggered, it gets Dropped. Note: I'm not sure the extra rules bloat is worth including this option on the Results Table. Should it be simplified to just Wounded or something?

Dying: A Dying character is constantly Staggered. Also, anytime he performs a strenuous act, such as attacking or casting a spell, he must make a Fortitude save (DC 10) or get Dropped. Every hour he remains Dying, he must make a Heroism Check (DC 10) or die.

Dropped: A character who is Dropped falls unconscious and prone, and loses all remaining Vitality Points. He cannot take actions until his Vitality Points are healed above zero.

Dead: A dead character cannot take actions and cannot be healed by most healing abilities.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Draz » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:55 pm

Discussion Questions

Well, this system needs a lot of feedback and even more playtesting. I'm really hoping people like the basic idea here, but I'm very open to suggestions for small tweaks or modifications to any part of the system. But I guess there are two specific questions I have especially in mind, just to get things started:
  1. Is "Stacking Wound" worth keeping?
  2. Assuming a typical melee-focused Level 1 monster can deal 1d8+2 damage per attack, how many Vitality Points should Level 1 characters have to keep combat from being too lethal?

Currently, Vitality Points range from 7 (for non-melee-focused Level 1 characters) to about 40 (for high-level, tough warrior types).
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Siosilvar » Thu Feb 03, 2011 3:13 pm

I think a simpler Results Table is in order. Something along the lines of this:

ResultNotes
No EffectDefault "Miss"
VP DamageDefault "Hit"
VP + Clobber
VP + WoundDefault "Peril"
VP + Clobber + Wound
VP + Dying
DroppedLose all VP
Instant Death
If Impact is greater than Armor, move down one rung.
If the target is Off Guard, move down two (or three) rungs.

In the format you have:
Not Off-Guard : 
Impact !> ArmorImpact > Armor
IncidentalNo EffectVP damage
NormalVP DamageVP + Clobber
PerilVP + WoundVP + Clobber + Wound
Off-Guard (as +2 rungs) : 
Impact !> ArmorImpact > Armor
IncidentalVP + ClobberVP + Wound
NormalVP + WoundVP + Clobber + Wound
PerilVP + DyingDropped
Off-Guard (as +3 rungs) : 
Impact !> ArmorImpact > Armor
IncidentalVP + WoundVP + Clobber + Wound
NormalVP + Clobber + WoundVP + Dying
PerilDroppedInstant Death
Off-Guard (Original) : 
Impact !> ArmorImpact > Armor
IncidentalVP + WoundVP + Clobber + Wound
NormalVP + DyingDropped + Wound
PerilDroppedInstant Death


Off-Guard as three rungs is most similar to the original, but seems incredibly lethal. Given that the conditions for Off-Guard amount to a Coup de Grace or a killing blow, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
EDIT: Although +2 rungs and an option for Clobbered to give +1 rung on the next attack might work, though you'd have to force the opponent Off-Guard for another round. Depending on how lethal you think this should be, of course.


As for question #1... it's probably not worth having a seperate result. Make it a standard rule or drop it entirely. #2... Again, depending on lethality, but characters should be able to take 3-8 or so level-appropriate blows, and single opponents the same. Enough to withstand a prolonged combat or being ganged up on, but low enough to make those things very bad options.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Draz » Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:18 pm

Siosilvar wrote:I think a simpler Results Table is in order. Something along the lines of this:

Heh, that actually looks very similar to earlier drafts of this system I have gone through.

I'll look into your suggestions in depth; possibly even playtest it alongside mine. I would love to make the results of attacks easier to wrap one's brain around, similar to yours.

Two comments to make about your version right off the bat:
  • It's kind of weird that you can go one category "worse" and get Wounded instead of Clobbered, when it's hard to say which of the two conditions is actually worse. Oddities like this might be worth adopting for streamlining's sake, though.
  • Your "Down Two Rungs" version, based on a similar playtest I did in the past, will definitely lead to combatants hanging around and fighting on too long after they've run out of VP and should be surrendering or losing.

Thanks also for the nicely-colored formatting on your new Results Table. I will be swiping that. :D

Off-Guard as three rungs is most similar to the original, but seems incredibly lethal. Given that the conditions for Off-Guard amount to a Coup de Grace or a killing blow, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Oh right, coup de grace conditions. I knew there was something I forgot to put on the Off-Guard rules. Fixed, thanks.

And yeah, I don't feel bad about making combat pretty lethal for anyone who's run out of VP. I guess surprise rounds might be unnecessarily harsh, though.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Siosilvar » Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:07 pm

Draz wrote:Two comments to make about your version right off the bat:
  • It's kind of weird that you can go one category "worse" and get Wounded instead of Clobbered, when it's hard to say which of the two conditions is actually worse. Oddities like this might be worth adopting for streamlining's sake, though.
  • Your "Down Two Rungs" version, based on a similar playtest I did in the past, will definitely lead to combatants hanging around and fighting on too long after they've run out of VP and should be surrendering or losing.


Yes, I know the Wounded/Clobbered thing is a bit off. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it.

As for "Two Rungs"... I might suggest that being Dying adds another rung. Or even just having a Wound. Conveniently, that would bring Instant Death back into the realm of possibility (if you can make the opponent go Off Guard again).

In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that it does so for the "Three Rungs" version as well.

This whole table check for results seems really clunky, so here's another attempt.

Defense/Fortitude Save successful: No ill effects.
Defense/Fortitude Save failed: Take VP damage, check list below.
    Off Guard: Clobbered and Wounded.
    Peril: Wounded.
    Impact > Armor: Clobbered.
    Wounded x2 (same attack): Dying.
    Clobbered x2 (same round): Dropped, possibly with a duration.
    Dropped and Dying: Dead.

This way, it's slightly easier to determine what affects what. Higher Peril weapons wound and kill targets more often. Armor protects you from being Clobbered. The combining effects make sense, too: Getting bashed around a lot takes you out of the fight. Taking serious injuries starts you bleeding out. Do both, and you die.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Draz » Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:38 pm

Siosilvar wrote:Defense/Fortitude Save failed: Take VP damage, check list below.
    Off Guard: Clobbered and Wounded.
    Peril: Wounded.
    Impact > Armor: Clobbered.
    Wounded x2 (same attack): Dying.
    Clobbered x2 (same round): Dropped, possibly with a duration.
    Dropped and Dying: Dead.

I like it, other than the last one being too harsh. (After combat, I want most of the bodies lying around the battlefield to still be save-able with proper care.)

Let's keep refining this direction of thought, see if we can iron out the kinks.

Defense/Fortitude Save successful: No ill effects.

This part, I'm not so fond of. I like the idea of characters eventually getting worn down even if they always roll high on their saves, and an Off-Guard character still getting out of any attack unscathed just by being lucky seems ... hard to believe, and also like it would make the end of combat just drag.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Siosilvar » Fri Feb 04, 2011 2:13 pm

Draz wrote:
Siosilvar wrote:Defense/Fortitude Save failed: Take VP damage, check list below.
    Off Guard: Clobbered and Wounded.
    Peril: Wounded.
    Impact > Armor: Clobbered.
    Wounded x2 (same attack): Dying.
    Clobbered x2 (same round): Dropped, possibly with a duration.
    Dropped and Dying: Dead.

I like it, other than the last one being too harsh. (After combat, I want most of the bodies lying around the battlefield to still be save-able with proper care.)

Let's keep refining this direction of thought, see if we can iron out the kinks.

Defense/Fortitude Save successful: No ill effects.

This part, I'm not so fond of. I like the idea of characters eventually getting worn down even if they always roll high on their saves, and an Off-Guard character still getting out of any attack unscathed just by being lucky seems ... hard to believe, and also like it would make the end of combat just drag.


Eh, the difference between being both Dropped and Dying and Dead is that you can't be healed if you're dead. That last one doesn't have to be there at all.
I might consider calling Dropped "Incapacitated" instead, sounds better.

Hrm... would't make sense to have Clobbered "go through" the successful save, and still take an action? Your dodge or parry took so much effort that it effectively removed one of your actions.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Draz » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:13 pm

Siosilvar wrote:Hrm... would't make sense to have Clobbered "go through" the successful save, and still take an action? Your dodge or parry took so much effort that it effectively removed one of your actions.

That might work ... so we're looking at something like this?

Save Successful: Check list below.
    Impact > Armor: Clobbered.
    Off-Guard: VP damage and Wounded.

Save Failed: Take VP damage and check list below.
    Impact > Armor: Clobbered.
    Peril: Wounded.
    Off-Guard: Wounded and Clobbered.
    Wounded x2 (same attack): Dying.
    Clobbered x2 (same attack): Dropped.

That might be workable. I'll stew on it some more. It definitely feels less clunky than the table.

EDIT: This version is definitely very, very harsh to light-armored, mobile warriors (swashbuckler or rogue types). They're going to be Staggered and therefore locked down a lot against any big, strong opponent.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Draz » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:33 pm

After pondering for a weekend, I've decided I'm going to try playtesting the system using what I have written above. As for light-armored warrior types ... well, I do want armor to be a significant advantage, especially for anyone who's planning to get attacked a lot! Plus, I can think of a few abilities that can mitigate the harshness of this rule, such as something like the following:

Duelist Stance - [Stance] Feat
Prerequisites: base Reflex +2; Fighting Level 1.
Benefit: when you enter this stance (a swift action), choose one foe within line of sight. While you are in this stance, you are not Clobbered on successful saves vs. the selected foe's melee attacks.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Draz » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:38 pm

I've revised the second post in this thread to reflect more up-to-date plans (many thanks to Siosilvar!).

Also, while I've utterly failed at making time to run some good solid playtesting of this system in the last couple months, I have a friend who says he'll run some soon.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Candenri » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:19 pm

A minor point, but when determining if someone is off-guard, I don't like bullet point 2, where you check to see if the impact is greater than the current VP. I see too many times were abilities might come into play that will effect how much damage if any damage is taken based on if they are successful on there save, or any number of other things. I think it would be easier to simply have the target off-guard if their current VP is zero. This could drag combat out by one round, but I think it makes it cleaner.

Also, is VP damage done on a successful defense save only if the target is off guard?
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Draz » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:24 pm

Candenri wrote:A minor point, but when determining if someone is off-guard, I don't like bullet point 2, where you check to see if the impact is greater than the current VP. I see too many times were abilities might come into play that will effect how much damage if any damage is taken based on if they are successful on there save, or any number of other things. I think it would be easier to simply have the target off-guard if their current VP is zero. This could drag combat out by one round, but I think it makes it cleaner.

A valid question to consider. I went this way mostly because I didn't want a huge difference in power between 0 VP and 1 VP remaining. It made certain healing abilities (think along the lines of 3e Fast Healing 1) too significant.

Also, is VP damage done on a successful defense save only if the target is off guard?

Yeah. I'm not entirely happy flavor-wise with the way you don't lose VP on a successful save, but this change was integral in making the Table of Results much cleaner.
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Re: Vitality/Injury System

Postby Draz » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:59 am

Candenri wrote:A minor point, but when determining if someone is off-guard, I don't like bullet point 2, where you check to see if the impact is greater than the current VP. I see too many times were abilities might come into play that will effect how much damage if any damage is taken based on if they are successful on there save, or any number of other things. I think it would be easier to simply have the target off-guard if their current VP is zero. This could drag combat out by one round, but I think it makes it cleaner.

Another point to consider: I like this method of determining Off-Guard because it means that, in special cases (such as a giant wading through commoners), targets actually can get Dropped by a single attack. That appeals to my simulationist urges.




After some playtesting (thanks Candenri!) and some more analysis, I've determined that this system needs another re-work. The prominent issues are twofold:
  • attackers with poor attack Impact have a very hard time ever dropping their foes, even once their foes run out of Vitality Points.
  • low-Impact, high-Peril weapons like kukris are actually a good option against high-armored targets in some ways. That's not how Peril was supposed to work.

So I've been working on a re-work, which I will post soon in a new discussion thread (keeps things cleaner).
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