Has anyone ever played around with the GM tracking character HP and damage for them?

Has anyone ever played around with the GM tracking character HP and damage for them?

Has anyone ever played around with the GM tracking character HP and damage for them?  Describing their HP as how their character feels vs letting the PCs know precisely how much energy they’ve got left?

20 thoughts on “Has anyone ever played around with the GM tracking character HP and damage for them?”

  1. That’s how I ran my D&D campaign for years. I used a screen  and had index cards folded over the top with colored damage ranges (roughly “mostly unhurt”, “hurt”, “badly hurt”). I’d move a paperclip from one range to another to let them know generally where they were, while I kept track of the actual HP behind the screen.

  2. It’s a good move for an illusion-driven game,where you want to make the players worry a bit about their survival while still having control over that outcome (fudging die rolls, etc.). I ultimately decided I was putting too much work on myself as the GM, and it was better to redistribute the state tracking and fictional control a bit.

  3. Tim Franzke can you help unpack that a little bit?  If the premise of the game was one of tense, gritty fantasy with a focus on immersion, would you be okay with it, or does that part of the equation put you off?

  4. I haven’t in most games with heavy planning and note keeping but I could see it in Dungeon World. The fiction first approach in there is totally compatible with DW.

  5. It would also force hesitation on the part of the characters before decision making.  We can look at a sheet and say “oh, i have 22 hp, I am good to go” but a character has to pause and consider how fucked up they are.

  6. I’ve done similar things with HP and Gold in games like D&D. It didn’t work so well for my group, but a DW group may think differently of the situation.

  7. It’s a lot like apocalypse world’s harm clock, and is a simpler, more descriptive look at hit points. It would generally simplify down to not hit for unharmed hit once for a little hurt, a few hits for feeling the pain, and 4-5 hits fore seriously injured, depending on class.

    You could also break it into HP ranges for each character as well if you want more precise maths.

    Simpler HP bookkeeping works well in other PBTA games, and its something I’ve been considering for a few of my hacks.

    Another method I’ve considered is forgoing traditional HP, and instead having a number of condition boxes that players can tick off or fill in, like consequences in FATE core.

    Take Harm

    When you take harm or injury, check off one of the following conditions. When you are healed, remove conditions as directed by the method of healing.

    [ ] shake it off : minor wounds easily ignored

    [ ] nothing serious : minor wounds easily ignored

    [ ] exhausted : defy danger Con for extended physical exertion

    [ ] bloodied : enemies sense your injury, and prioritise you as a target

    [ ] dazed : your thoughts are jumbled, defy danger to focus or concentrate

    [ ] enraged : you’re out for blood; take +1 ongoing to actions fuelled by your rage, and -1 ongoing to everything else till you calm down

    [ ] severely injured : take -2 ongoing to any physical action until you get your injury tended.

    [ ] taken out : you’re out of the action for now; roll last breath when things have settled down.

  8. I’m with Tim Franzke here. While it sounds like fun and all, then I’m not sure if I would actually like it as a player. But as I’m saying, I’m not sure, I haven’t tried it.

    What I have tried was some freeform roleplaying, no rules. The GM decided everything, and as such we suffered a major case of “action paralysis”. No one dared do anything risky, because we had no idea what the consequences would be.

    While I’m sure this won’t be as bad here, not knowing how much HP you have can probably have a similar effect.

  9. It would still be pretty visible how much further you can push. When you hit that red band at the bottom where you’re seriously compromised, you know there’s only 1 or 2 more hits you can take. It’s time to get desperate and look for a way out or a way to finish things.

  10. Kasper Brohus There is a danger that DW might start behaving like AW or a similar harm model with such a system. At the end of the day, it would all depend on the feel that the group/GM are going for.

    Experimentation and faliure are the path to success.

    Many games, RPG or otherwise, break down to a gamble at some point. that’s where a lot of tension is generated. “Will I survive this roll?” Different models for handling HP can give the game a very different feel.

    The model that Adam Koebel has mentioned relies heavily on either the custom rules or the GM to communicate the level of harm, and current level of risk for actions. It could be a very powerful and emmersive tool for confident GMs and players, but perhaps not something I’d reccomend for a first time group unless the rules are rock solid.

  11. My expierence is limited, but in our group HP haven’t been an issue like you mentioned for keeping tension in the game. There are usually more important things we worry about our heroes than their HP. The gm can always do something more to us that is more concerning than HP. Even if he have a bunch of HP I don’t see the issues of wading into trouble and not being any risk. I agree with Tim, and I am not a fan of abstract damage systems like hurt or a little bit hurt.

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