I’m toying (again) with the idea of getting rid of HP.
So, I’ve analyzed some of the numbers (here for those interested):
Basically, the only thing HP allows is granularity (a 2 dmg hit VS a 12 dmg hit). The cost is a bit slower gameplay (you have to roll damage, subtract armor, then subtract the total to your remaining HP).
But that granularity really has not much incident if in the end it doesn’t allow you to survive at least 1 more hit. For e.g., if you have a character with 15 HP, there’s no difference between taking a 10 dmg hit followed by 9 dmg hit than a 8 dmg followed by 7 dmg. In both cases, you’re down with 2 hits. And your still down in 3 hits for 1, 7, 7 VS 2, 6, 7 or … well, you get the point.
The number of permutations is not that wide if you think about it, even more so when you consider that the average damage done by monsters is around 6 (all monsters considered). From there, you can safely say that, on average, a character with 24 hp will get dropped after 4 hits.
Maths gets funky with Armor and Piercing/Ignore Armor, but let’s pass for now.
Another point I’ve taken into consideration is with HP, really, the only 4 states that your characters goes through is: Full HP, But a Scratch, Need Healing, Down.
So I came up with the idea of “Hit Boxes”. While not novel, I think it covers for characters that can take more hits than others, while not fiddling with the details (at the cost of granularity).
Considering the average damage and average/most likely HP that a character gets, I’ve come up with these numbers:
Nb. of Hit boxes
So a barbarian can take an average of 3 hits, the 4th will drop it down.
If you have a bonus to CON, add 1 hit-box.
If you have -1 to CON, remove 1 hit-box
Most monsters will make 1 hit-box worth of damage.
Strong monsters like Earth Elemental, Goliath, Purple Worm, Sauropod, Treants and the like (they all do d10+5, d8+7 or B[2d10]+2 or more) will make 2 hit-boxes worth of damage.
Dragons do 3 hit-boxes worth of damage.
Now Armor is tricky. At average damage (6), Armor 1 would give you consistently 1 more hit-box, but at armor 4, you can take as much as 8 more hits! The more you increase average damage, the less effective armor gets. At low level of damage (goblins, bandits, worgs, and such that do ~d6 dmg), at Armor 4 they virtually can’t damage you, at Armor 2 it’s as much as 4 more hit-boxes.
For sake of simplicity, each pts of Armor gives you an additional hit-box. It works with the math for 2 hit-boxes worth of damage monsters (Armor 4 protects you vs 2 more hits from those monsters, which is consistent with the maths)
Piercing trait allows a monster to ignore that number of extra hit-boxes.
Ignore armor ignores all extra hit-boxes.
Now you have 2 options for PC damage.
1. Either you keep it (because let’s face it, rolling dice is fun!)
2. All characters do 1 hit-box of damage or 2 hit-boxes if they can manage to do d10+5/d8+6/d6+7/d4+8.
Monsters have HP/6 in hit-boxes (round up).
Add 1 box for each pt of Armor (which are ignored same has explained above).
(it’s easy to remember, feeble creatures will have 1, most enemies will have 2, strong creatures will have 3, and the rare creatures with more than has 19+ HP have 4) + Armor.
Finally, to add gravitas to this, the GM can also attach a tag to any hit-box that you just checked off. A tag is a way to give narrative impact to the hit you received, much like the weapon and item tags. It is usually a single word, like “Bleeding”, “Blinded”, “Winded”, “Lame”, “Dazed” and such. Not all wounds warrant a tag, but the last 3 hit-boxes should most likely have one to represent increasingly serious hits.
For healing, when the game says you heal half your HP, you heal half your boxes (round up).
Poultices and Healing Potions heal 1 box.
Cure Light and Arcane Art heal 1 box.
Cure Mod heals 2 boxes
Cure Crit heals 3.
Instead of HP you have boxes that you check each time you’re hit and you can add a tag next to one for narrative effect.
Overly complicated, most probably. But it does work. Maths aren’t too much off from what you expect. People that are bad at math (me) appreciate the no-brainer (you’re hit, check off a box). Fans of Torchbearer, Fate or Indie Hack will surely feel at home.
I’m open to critique!