I’m interested in alternate takes on HP/damage, especially ones that are more similar to Apocalypse World’s resist…

I’m interested in alternate takes on HP/damage, especially ones that are more similar to Apocalypse World’s resist…

I’m interested in alternate takes on HP/damage, especially ones that are more similar to Apocalypse World’s resist harm move. I know there are some out there. Does anyone have any experience playing DW like this?

15 thoughts on “I’m interested in alternate takes on HP/damage, especially ones that are more similar to Apocalypse World’s resist…”

  1. I haven’t played it that way yet but I’ve been thinking about it a lot and theoryhacked a bit.

    What issues are looking to solve or what kind of feel are you going for?

  2. Just a thought I had, using a damage system similar to the one of “On Mighty Thews”. Instead of losing HP, a character gets  a condition (e.g. “My shoulder hurts”). When the character gets a third condition, he rolls – (number of condition-3) (0 when he gets his third condition, -1 for the second, -2 for the third…)

    10+ : you survivre, for now…

    7-9 : you are out of the scene, but still breathing

    6- : you are dead.

    A player can get rid of a condition suffered by her character by saying how it impairs her character during a move and gets -2 on this roll. 

  3. Here’s a couple of pretty “safe” options (ie. nothing revolutionary).

    One set of alternate harm rules that I quite like are these: 


    They’re for AW, but it wouldn’t be too complicated applying them to DW as well. I like how they make harm quite palpable and gritty but it also seems they would be a bit cumbersome to use at the table (haven’t tried them yet).

    Another way would be to do it kinda like I did it in Sagas. When you get hit by something that might conceivably injure you, roll +Con and then a list of options based on how well you roll. Armour is somehow figured into the roll/options or gives you a separate armour roll that is activated when your armour may conceivably intercept said injury. 

  4. I actually really like Mark Diaz Truman​ ‘s Stress system in Cartel, and I can see how I might adapt it to Dungeon World (perhaps by way of Darkest Dungeon’s stress breaks).

    If anyone beats me to actually writing this up, please tag me.

  5. Also my two sidelined projects, Heartbreaker World and The War, use similar but slightly different damage systems. They’d be pretty hard to work in DW proper, but if you’re thinking about a deeper hack these might get some ideas percolating.  I’m quite fond of them.



    The War:


  6. I’m not sure I want to throw out HP wholesale, since they’re a pretty major part of DW. What about turning the Resist Harm move on its head? Rather than rolling+harm suffered, you roll+HP left?

    When you take an injury that reduces your HP to 7 or less, roll+your current HP. *On a 10+, you may choose one of the following, if you do, its instead of some of the damage you just took, recover 1d4 HP:

    • You lose your footing.

    • You lose your grip on whatever you’re holding.

    • You lose track of someone or something you’re attending to.

    • You miss noticing something important.

    *On a 7-9, the GM chooses one from the above list. *On a 6-, the GM chooses two from the list, or you’re out of action: unconscious, trapped, incoherent or panicked.

    (I’d like to add debilities in there somewhere too. Now I’m thinking of a much grittier DW where Making Camp only heals a few HP.)

  7. Peter J You don’t seem to want to depart from HP,but I love how the drafts of uncharted worlds deal with things. Uncharted worlds has a little bit different armor stat, but here it is. 

    BRACE FOR IMPACT (+Armor) When you would suffer harm, the GM will tell you the Severity (Minor, Major, Severe, Critical or Fatal). Roll+Armor. On a 13+, the severity is reduced by two. On a 10-12, the severity is reduced by one. On a 7-9, you suffer an injury of that severity. On a 6-, you suffer an injury of a greater severity.

    Uncharted Worlds:



    Created by


    (Sean Gomes)

    Also, I don’t usually feel like I myself would uses resist harm often in DW, just because I can just use defy danger+con for that situation. Just because defy danger is such a fluid move that it can be added to most situations. 

    You seem to more be looking for more streamlined examples or options for results of defy danger on partial successes and failures. 

    If you’re looking for gritty DW, look at grim world.



    House rule it. Offer more hard choices for 7-9.The Players gets to choose one of those above options or you have to choose between damage and a debility. 

  8. I’m idly working on a sci-fi version of the rules, and recently included “heartiness” instead of traditional HP + Damage.  I’m theming my game after classic sci-fi T.V. shows (Stargate, Dr. Who, etc), and it occured to me that I’d rather have a damage system that better emulated that.

    A player has essentially levels of health, with the first amounting to a “lucky escapes”. They only get so many before they take actual damage, which will directly impact their character (“describe your injury”). Too many of those too close together and you have to take an “injured: ” tag. Hurt past that? Your character’s on the ropes.

    The amount of “lucky escapes” they get  is directly tied into their class, so more combaty characters are more likely to survive attacks than less combaty types.

    I haven’t play tested it yet.

  9. I’ve been using what’s below, which I based off of ideas from the discussion hosted by Paul T (see earlier comment above; I think I’ve tweaked these a bit but I don’t deserve any credit for what’s below).  It’s been working well, it makes for some tense moments.  In my game this evening, a Paladin and a Thief fought a young dragon (no breath weapon yet); the Paladin rolled lots of damage, but also rolled lots of misses, which he managed to weather with good rolls.  The thief tried to backstab the dragon twice; the first failed, and he had to roll per below or lose his arm.  Escaped without consequence!

    When something happens that could kill, debilitate, or incapacitate you:  Roll +Armor and +HP (however many you wish to spend – but the combination of Armor and HP spent may not exceed +3).  HP spent are gone for the rest of the session, or until you are healed/have a long rest.  

    On a 10+, the damage has no effect.  

    On a 7-9, choose 1:

    + You are incapacitated and will reawaken without further consequences at the fight’s end (however, your slumbering body may still suffer harm   during your snooze).

    + Take a debility of your choice but suffer no further consequences.

    + Grit your teeth: you’ve been damaged, but adrenaline carries you on for now.  Suffer no effect now, but when the fight/scene ends, you must immediately roll to Recover (vs. Death or long-term debility).  

    On a 6-, the damage in question occurs.  You are incapacitated (or, if the damage’s full extent is less than that, the full extent occurs).  If you are revived at the end of the fight, Roll to Recover.

    When you Roll to Recover from Harm, roll plus HP (no Armor; you may spend up to 3 HP.  HP spent are lost for the rest of the session, or until healed or you spend a Long Rest).

    On a 10+, you get back to your feet and are fine.  No further effect.

    On a 7-9, you suffer a permanent debility.  If you already have all six debilities, you die.

    On a 6-, you are dead.  So sorry; Dungeon World is a harsh place.  

  10. A quick follow up on my earlier post; I also run HP totals differently, as 4 + 2x CON.  So, a character with +2 CON has 8 HP.  I use little blue glass beads on the table to track their HP.

    I’ll also clarify that in our handful of games, this has led to debility and to incapacitation (knocked out for a combat) but not, yet, to character death.  I tell my players each time that “any fight may kill you, but each fight probably won’t.”

  11. You might want to check out also the harm system in City of Judas – another AW hack – which is using a -3/+3 counter and a harm move for PCs, plus another counter and harm move for enemies, instead of HP..

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