Health in D&D

This is based on my experience with D&D 5e and knowledge of some of the earlier versions (4e and 3.5e). However, if HP works differently in some of the other versions of D&D than don’t listen to what I say/write. Also, I will just write D&D instead of D&D 5e, because I’m lazy in that aspect.

Vitality

Health points or HP (also called Hit Points, but I like to be inconsequential), in short, all characters have a HP number that has to reach zero for them to die (disclaimer: death can be experienced even when HP is above zero). What does HP represent? Basically how tough and sturdy your character naturally is. When you create your character a few things will determine how much HP you will begin with and how much you will be able to gain through a campaign. Your Constitution score, it will modify how much HP you get each level, your race, it might affect your Constitution score or just give you extra HP and finally your class, which will determine what kind of die you use when rolling HP and HP gain.

Let’s deconstruct HP. What is HP actually? health points, so we have to words, health and points. So what is health? according to Wikipedia it is:

Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living organism. In humans it is the ability of individuals or communities to adapt and self-manage when facing physical, mental or social challenges. Link

So it has to do with the well-being of people or groups, in this case “people” and mostly just the physical kind, arguments could probably be made that it also includes mental health, but I will treat it as just physical.

Now that we have the Health part down, what do points mean?

Points, depending on the context, often are some kind of numerical value thingy majing. In this case they are whole numbers, which can be both positive and negative. Pro tip: make sure not to get a negative whole number.

These two combined gives us a abstract way to tell how healthy our character is at the moment by looking at their number, if it is above zero, we are alive and if it is a very large number, we are tough sturdy people that can take a beating.

This way to represent health is a heritage from older versions of D&D, which in turn is a heritage from before D&D became D&D and was just a table top war game. HP is a simple way to represent the wellness, but it can be a bit too simple/gamey.

The reason it is “too simple” is that HP isn’t specific enough in what it is. Mechanically it determines if your character is still alive or not and how much “aliveness” you have before dying, but thematically, it gets a bit weird. 1 HP means you are still alive, no matter the severity of the injuries, but if you in the “narrative” got both arms ripped off and bleed a lot, you should probably be very dead, dead. So a problem arises with how you can describe the damage.

For example: A wizard with 15HP is attacked by an owlbear that deals 16 damage, this is a grievous injury, and it puts the wizard on the edge between life and death. A fitting way to describe it could be that the owlbear tears loose an arm and makes the wizard’s guts spill out. But if this attack was applied to a barbarian with 30hp, it wouldn’t be nearly as sever, since half of his HP is still left.

Of course, this is where the GM/DM is supposed to describe how the attack on the barbarian only was a flesh wound, since he was able to dodge most of the swipe. But how about attacks like a dragons flame? How do you explain that a barbarian, only clad in loin cloths is able to endure flambéing better than a master of the arcane arts?

Well we can’t really, and this is where the problems arise. In our first example, the one with the owlbear, we see what happens when a characters wellness, his vitality is divided into too many parts AKA his HP is high. Suddenly, HP starts creeping in on another mechanics territory: AC (Armor Class). AC represents how difficult it is to hit/wound a character, be it that they are wearing armor, using a shield or that they are nimble, it is all represented by AC. But when a character’s HP number grows bigger, that will result in their “narrative AC” growing higher. If we take the first example and tweak it a little bit and say the owlbear just does 10 damage. In the wizards case, that would mean losing 2/3 of his HP, so it would be a horrendous wound, maybe ribs would be showing and he would bleed profusely. In the barbarian’s case it would only be 1/3 of his HP, still a dangerous blow, but not nearly as fatal. Suddenly, we can’t describe the wound in the same way, cause if we did, than the barbarian would have needed to lose about the same percent of his HP. Therefore his “narrative AC” goes up. And if we did describe the wound received by the barbarian in the same way, then suddenly being mauled would be that bad. Say they barbarian had 50HP instead of 30, than only 1/5 would have been lost, and the severity of the attack just keeps diminishing and narratively it has to be milder. This can of course be explained when we are dealing with more normal kinds of attacks, but when supernatural attacks occur, how do you explain that in a logical way, when there isn’t really any logic to it.

 

3-owlbear

He gon’ rip yah to pieces, or gently nibble on you depending on your HP

Here it becomes apparent that HP is a more gamey thing, since it can’t really be explained well in all situations, and since it is used to strengthen certain traits in some classes. Like how a barbarian should always engage in mêlée with the enemies whilst a wizard should stand in the back and throw fireballs.

Furthermore, another point that cements the fact that HP is more of a game mechanic than one to enhance the role-playing is the long rest. No matter what kind of wounds you’ve taken or how low your HP was it will always go back to full after just 8 hours of rest. A broken arm? Good as new after a nap. Almost bleed out? Just rest for 8 hours and you’ll be ready to donor some blood. Lost a leg? Sleep on it, it’ll grow back.  If only modern medicine was this effective.

Even though I think the HP system is a bit too gamey/loosely tied to the theme/narrative it is nothing a GM/DM can’t circumvent, and it is also a good system for when you want a lighter experience and don’t have to worry about your character becoming useless after a bad fight.

Pics found here and here.

 

Comments off

Role-playing shenanigans

Role-playing is a group activity, it is a form of entertainment/enjoyment that steems from the “cooperation” of all participating individuals.

In a GURPS campaign set in the Warhammer 40.000 universe in which I was a player, this was not the case. The party, of four, did not cooperate, in fact it was hardly even a group, it was rather two groups, both of which hated the other (in character, not out of character). This kind of group problems would in most cases just lead to the group falling apart. But ours did prevail, until the shit hit the fan.

Why did this group prevail/not murder each other horribly? I might pretend that some reading this says or thinks.

Firstly: one half of the group was dependent on the other half, because their half, both in and outside of character knew almost nothing about the WH 40k universe. Because of this, the half which had knowledge could more or less tell the other ones what to do or else they would die. It’s kind of funny how most options/choices in WH 40k lead to your or someone else’s death… or just the death of everyone involved.

Secondly: the second reason, sort of, was that the half with little to no knowledge of the universe also was a tad out gunned/powered. They were powerful, one of them were a psychic with a power weapon and really strong armor, but the other half had very big guns, and was also people with higher social ranking. Therefore they couldn’t do what they wanted, since most of society saw them as trash.

So what happened in the end? Things fell apart. The half of the group with knowledge and power realized that especially one of the other party members couldn’t be trusted under any circumstances, unless they wanted a knife or gunshot in their back, which lead to precautions and plotting of ways to kill this character. However, that character acted first, but not before some precautions had been take, luckily.

I think I should shortly present the group before continuing this text. The party was two groups, the “wildling group” which consisted of a thief with serious gun slinging skills and a big ass warrior with psychic powers. Both their characters came from underdeveloped planets and knew nothing about the Imperium of man.

The other half, “the civilized group”, was a Imperial guard lieutenant/soldier and a tech priest. These two had a long running beef with the gunslinger since that character had disobeyed orders several times and acted like a true chaotic evil character.

c0e7d26a8d27052faef4a32288b4a253

It wasn’t this bad… but not too far from it.

Both the tech priest and soldier had foreseen that the gunslinger would probably try to either kill them during their sleep and/or steal all of their stuff while they weren’t looking. Which gave birth to glorious booby-traps. The soldier set explosives all over her door and personal crate that would detonate if not dealt whit right, whilst the tech priest put a friggin Gatling gun pointing towards his door which would rain bullets on anyone entering the wrong way.

The last session of this campaign started with a bang. The gunslinger had tried to enter the soldier’s room to poison her, but luckily/unluckily the gunslinger survived. The gunslinger had even convinced the psychic warrior dude to help with the murder. The soldier found him holding a pillow outside her room, with the gunslinger bleeding from shrapnel and burn wounds. Her, the soldier should have just killed the gunslinger, if it weren’t for the fact that she thought she was only going to be robbed.

Anyhow, during the climax of the session a big battle was fought against overwhelming odds on a space ship. The party was being torn to pieces when the warrior psychic tipped the scale to the party’s side by letting a daemon posses him… which quickly became a even larger threat. All of the soldiers accompanying the party was ripped apart or burnt to cinders with psychic lightning. The gunslinger became mortally wounded but the soldier and tech priest managed to put the unholy creature down with a few well placed holy bolter rounds and prayers to the Omnisha (read: dial up-speak). After the bolters had strategically removed most of the torso of the now dead warrior, the soldier and tech priest started to head for the escape pods. This made the gunslinger mad since she was still alive and proceeded to shot the soldier in the back. Unlucky for the gunslinger, the shoot was not mortal and large parts of the gunslinger shortly thereafter disappeared from bolter rounds.

This party was dysfunctional from the very beginning, too dysfunctional in my opinion. In some RP groups, this situation could very well have been the end of their continued playing, with participants quitting the group. But luckily, our group survived this. It was interesting experiences, and to some degrees one that worked well with the setting, but I wouldn’t want to experience it again. Unless it was decided from the get go that we would be backstabbing each other. Even though the end result was pretty glorious, it was also from time to time very frustrating to play because you never knew if the other half of the party would cooperate or not. Moral of this story: don’t backstab and don’t be uncooperative.

Pic found here: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c0/e7/d2/c0e7d26a8d27052faef4a32288b4a253.jpg

Leave a comment »

STAR WARS VII (The last one, for now)

Out with the old and in with the new. It’s rebootin’ time!

 

SPOILERS!

 

 

As I and many others have pointed out, this movie is a retread of old steps, but it is also a retelling and kick-off for the new trilogy. This is why Han Solo must die.

Yes, Han Solo must die and Leia and Luke are not allowed to have much screen time (might also be because of their pay…) in the first episode. The reason old characters need to be offed (I’m guessing the other two might also meet a end in one of the upcoming movies) is to cement this as a its own thing. It will still be Star Wars even if a few characters die, that baggage of that franchise goes beyond Luke, Leia and Han, but it needs to ditch as many “bags” as possible to be able to flourish into something “new” and unique. Well, maybe not have to, but it should do it. Because this is a new thing and new things need to do new things, and stop doing retread old stuff.

Because of this, Han Solo had to die. If Han Solo hadn’t died, than there would be problems down the road, such as which character they should put the spotlight on and “why isn’t Han Solo here helping out/solving the problem?” (He also died because Episode VII is copy pasting the plot of Episode IV but it also served the grander purpose of “completely” turning Kylo Ren to the Dark side by performing patricide (and mentorcide))

(The imagery shown leading up to Han Solos death is awesome; I felt a need to mention that)

So during the next two episodes some more of the old characters might die, to further set this trilogy apart from the original but also to drive the overarching narrative forward. Luke might die fighting Snoke, Leia might die from a New Order assault, all to strengthen Finn, Poe and Rey as characters, ’cause they can’t stand in the spotlight if some old crumbs are standing in the way.

Leave a comment »

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens second watching

Now the hype train has come to a stop and I believe the “no spoiler” period is over.

I have seen this movie twice, was it as good during the second watching. No, no it wasn’t but it was still an enjoyable ride. Would I still recommend people to go see it, defiantly, because it is a good adventure/action flick. But that’s ‘bout it.

I might sound a bit harsh, especially since my last post was a weird praising of the movie, which I don’t regret, because back then, it was truly magical. But as with all things, it calms down eventually.

“SPOILERS AHEAD”

If you’ve seen Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, than you has seen this movie. That is something being said by many critiques and while it is true, it is also “not true”. This movie is a stepping stone, a launch pad, from which the new trilogy shall bloom and grow.

So what do I mean by saying that the critiques are true but also not. Well the big story/plot points for this movie are the same as those in Star Wars Episode IV, the goo that binds it all together is not the same, and I think this is important to point out.

The plot is therefore kind of a letdown, since it is a “retelling”, but it is still way better than the prequels. However this creates some interesting character traits in the villain, Kylo Ren. He is a Darth Vader fan boy, and he wants to become a new “Darth Vader” therefore he mimics said person and that makes for a interesting villain. He wants to continue a legacy that failed, and at the same time, he wants be something of his own. I am really looking forward to seeing what they do with this character in the rest of the trilogy.

Next up! Finn, the “odd-ball”, “why odd-ball?” because he is a New Order defector. He was part of the “EVUHL EMPIRE” but after seeing some casual murdering of innocent civilians he decides to go with the good guys. Also, he falls in love with the new generations’ hero. Which is a new thingy-jingy.

The hero of the prequels (Anakin) did also have a love story, which leads to destruction and a imbalance in the force. So it will be interesting to see were this will be going, will Rey respond to Finns feelings, will that lead her down the path of the dark side?

Also our hero this time around is a woman, which I think is cool. Star Wars have been for the most part a sausage-party, with some exceptions. And the movie played did a fun thing with the fact. In one scene, when Rey (the hero) is attacked by some thugs Finn runs to her rescue but before he arrives she has already neutralized the threat.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but what I do know is that this film has laid out a good and solid foundation for the two upcoming movies.

Also, the movie is simply gorgeous; a few scenes are simply eye porn.

Leave a comment »

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

So me and a friend saw this film.

It was really good.

We had to eat a pizza to calm down.

Our words weren’t enough.

If you are reading this, stop that s*** and go watch Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

There is finally more than three Star Wars movies.

R2D2 out of R2D2.

Leave a comment »

Nano once again!

So today Nanowrimo started (National Novell Writing Month) and I’ll be kind of busy with that, but I will still try to do some other posts.

Leave a comment »

Warhammer 40k: Greenskins and toddlers

The Warhammer 40.000 universe is a very, very special place, a place where you will most likely die in a horrible manner. This universe is populated by a few different factions, which are all very extreme and kind of over the top (I think). We have the Imperium of man, which are crazy fascist and accuse everything that is different for heresy or being xeno (which ironically is also heresy). The factions are in some sense personifications of certain things. The Tyranids can be seen as the personification of over consumption and the sin of gluttony, since all they do is eat and hunger for more to eat.

Among all of these factions the orks are probably my favorites, because they lack a overarching goal (sort of). Orks in WH40K are savage barbarians, destroying civilization where ever they go. Like an unstoppable tide wildlings they plunder and burn all in their path, be it humans, eldars or even other orks. Orks could be likened to the Mongols, an unstoppable horde which brought destruction on Europe and Asia, nothing could stop them. In the WH40K canon it is said that if the orks ever united, they would become a unstoppable horde unlike anything ever seen. This is one aspect of the orks, but it’s not the one which I love.

What I love about them is that they are children; big, brutal, green, murderous children. What drives orks isn’t a greater goal, what drives them is joy. They are joy mongers. Most orks likes to fight, because a good fight is fun, they make war on other races (or themselves) just to get a good fight. But it isn’t just their simplemindedness.

All orks have weak psychic powers and if enough orks thinks that something is a certain way, than reality adjusts itself to their thinking. For example: Orks think that red things goes faster, therefore if they paint something red, it goes faster than it should.

They have the logic of children. Most of their weapons are just pieces of scrap hammered together, so that they look and sound dangerous. And since they believe it is dangerous, it becomes dangerous. The whole WH40K universe is their playground and they make up the rules as they go along, all in the name of fun. Just like children. If a child thinks broccoli is poisonous, than broccoli is poisonous (not really, but I hope you get my point). In a universe full of death, suffering and all around horribleness, the orks are a fresh breath with their quest for joy and childish shenanigans.

Leave a comment »