Friday, 16 March 2012

Restore All Your HP After Battle


I've been playing the cumbersomely titled Final Fantasy XIII-2 on the PS3 (or as I call it, since it's full of tedious and improbably dressed pseudo-Californian teenagers emoting about their tedious fucking "issues" - Final Fantasy XIII-90210).

In the same fashion as it's predecessor FFXIII (or as I call it, Advanced Corridor Walking Simulator) the party restore all their HP after each and every combat. That seems a bit radical to my eyes but...

It might be a good idea for a D&D variant.

Yeah, it goes totally against the grain of D&D as a resource management game and seriously cocks up the balance, mathematics everything.

But, if the game had done this since day one, with the inference that Hit Points were "survival under fire in a single melee" as opposed to "survival under fire in the dungeon as a whole" then nobody would bat an eyelid at it and it would probably be the standard for every RPG mechanic that broadly equates to "Hit Points". Both approaches are somewhat abstract, it's just one of them is the abstract approach originally employed and obviously the other one, err, isn't.

You could even add a bit of Old School flavour to this by rerolling HP before every battle which would shake things up a bit.

FFXII-90210 adds a bit of grist to the mill in something it calls a Wounding attack. This wounds and lowers maximum hit points at the same time. Max HP is restored after the battle. So, if Gorgan M'reywolf(*) has 12 hit points, suffers 4 hp from a so-called "Wounding" attack, 3 hp from a normal attack (down to 5 hp, remedial level maths fans) and then is Cure Light Wounds-ed by Dead Aleena during the combat, she only gets healed up to 8 hit points. After the battle she auto-heals to 12 as normal. So far in FFXII-90210 I've fought a boss monster with this ability but I'm not sure why he has it and others didn't.


Perhaps this could be recast as a Poison attack - so that a attack with a Save vs Poison element is "Wounding" damage if the save is failed otherwise the damage is straight hp loss. (i.e. a spider or snake does it's bite damage on a successful Save and the same damage as "Wounding" if the Save is failed. Or you could take a leaf from the Final Fantasy games and have a continual drip-feed of damage from a poisoned attack equal to the monster's HD every round until cured, dead or the combat is over. This would replace Save or Die in this instance.)

Of course, this ignores damage from non-combat sources such as traps. Perhaps the solution here is to beef up the nastiness of traps and then auto-heal after the trap encounter is resolved. So either the trap does enough damage in one blow to kill the PC or, put simply, it just doesn't and the PC gets away with it.

(*) Back in the mists of pre-history we used to name characters in this fashion quite a lot. Take a famous fictional name and flip the first characters or syllables of each name which led to PCs with names like Greydalf the Gan, Melric of El'Nibone, Goonmlum, Ford Loul and Bonan Carbarian.

6 comments:

  1. This 'restore for next fight' mechanic you speak of already (sort of) emerges after the first few levels of D&D. PC and henchman clerics slap on the curatives when all the enemy lie dead, and on they plough.

    The Wounding Attack idea makes for an interesting 'death spiral' situation. The longer you're in a fight with a poison-user/life-drainer/whatever; the less good in-battle healing does you. Nice representation of combat fatigue.

    Of course, this ignores damage from non-combat sources such as traps. Perhaps the solution here is to beef up the nastiness of traps and then auto-heal after the trap encounter is resolved.

    It really sets the scene for Grimtooth-style situational traps, rather than 'wandering damage' (pits, spears, spikes, etc).

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  2. I've rolled under the assumption that HP are abstract and not physical wounds, or at least only insignificant bruises and scrapes. Dropping to 0 HP doesn't mean the character's dead, I have a really simple table that you roll on at 0 HP to see if your wounded, dead or just winded. HP are rerolled every morning, if your in wilderness or a dungeon then HP can decrease this way, sleeping in a nice comfy inn means your HP can only increase with this roll. After battle or anytime, characters can rest and be restored to their max for the day. What Clerics can do is heal those wounds (from the 0 HP chart) which otherwise would take forever to heal.

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  3. I like this. It's the kind of thing D&D4 was trying to get at with its healing surges, but didn't quite manage. I think I'd have Wounds stay in play until the party rested in a safe place, so you'd still get that feel of attrition when the party are three levels down into the dungeon and everyone's at their new maximum of 1HP each.

    The One Ring has a similar kind of hit point system, but it's a bit too complex to go into here.

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  4. if your in wilderness or a dungeon then HP can decrease this way, sleeping in a nice comfy inn means your HP can only increase with this roll

    This is ace.

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  5. In the superhero game Supercrew you get all your wounds healed after a fight. But then it's a more indie, abstract game, and 'hits' may not be actual physical damage.

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  6. But then it's a more indie, abstract game, and 'hits' may not be actual physical damage.

    That's long been my take on D&D hp as well - mostly it's fate dwindling away IMO.

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