A Descriptive Damage Hack for Dungeon World/World of Dungeons

edited March 2014 in Game Design Help
I've had a hankering for some dungeon-crawl-type gaming, and thinking about different ways to do this using something Powered by the Apocalypse. One thing that's always left me unsatisfied with games like Dungeon World, however, is the take on damage and wounds: subtracting hit points from a running total seems like a particularly unexciting way to do things for a game which cares a lot about colourful, in-fiction action. However, hit points (and diminishing hit point totals) are definitely part of D&D-style gaming. So how can we use them in a fun, more modern way?

This is my basic idea, still unplaytested. I love some things about it and yet I also have a feeling there might be something missing. I'm going for a feeling of danger and uncertainty as well as a visceral connection to the fiction, and a vivid focus in the details of what's happening "on screen". I'd love to hear what you think. (Or, better yet, try this in your game and let me know how it goes.)

The basic premise:

*When You Get Hurt*

You miss a roll or something bad happens and suddenly you're hit by something. This is a scary moment! The MC describes the delivery of the injury and makes clear the danger but leaves the precise effect of the injury on you unstated. The possible extent of the damage should be pretty clear, however: have you potentially lost your arm or been run through? This should sound scary and suspenseful, with the character's livelihood hanging in the balance. Here's what this looks like:

"The troll's hammer comes down with incredible speed and hits your head: there's a sound like a thunderclap and the next thing you know, all you're seeing is red."

"The creature's jaws close around your torso and bear down, rotten teeth the size of kitchen knives piercing your corselet with a sickening crunch."

"The spinning blades come down on your arm at the last moment. You can feel them pull you to the right; worse yet, there's blood everywhere."

"Diving under Aragorn's blow with the speed of a striking snake, the orc-chieftain charged into the Company and thrust with his spear straight at Frodo. The blow caught him on the right side, and Frodo was hurled against the wall and pinned."
By default, an injury throws you completely off-balance (due to shock, impact, etc.), will hinder you if you're continuing to fight (should you be able to), and could cause serious problems for you after the fight's over. So, it has an instant effect, a continuing effect throughout the remainder of the fight, and will still remain a danger (or even get worse) after the encounter is over (bleeding, infection, etc).

If the fictional circumstances are such that one of these is not possible, congratulations: you're getting off easier than that. But, generally speaking, this is what you're dealing with when you're injured.

It also may or may not threaten immediate death (more on this below).


  • edited March 2014
    When you get hurt, you can (and should) choose to try to resist the harm. You're a hero, after all:
    When your character suffers a horrible injury or wound , you may choose to resist harm. Roll+number of hit points you'd like to spend. One a hit, choose options. On a 13+, all of them. On a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 1.
    * This injury doesn't hamper you, you can ignore it for now
    * You got lucky: you'll find later that the injury's not as big a deal as it seemed
    * You maintain your position or advantage, and can react immediately (if you do, take +1 forward)
    On a miss, whatever else the MC says happens, you suffer the injury in full, right now.
    There's no minimum hit point expenditure: you may always choose to spend 0 hit points. However, the 13+ category here exists mainly as an incentive to spend at least one hit point every time you make this roll.

    When you've suffered any dangerous injuries and you have a moment to gather yourself, you can try to recover from them (with thanks to @Johnstone for the basic idea for this move):
    When you fight to recover from trauma, roll+number of hit points you'd like to spend. On a 10+, you recover quickly and as fully as possible under the circumstances. On a 7-9, you will recover but the MC chooses one:
    * It will take extra time or require specific conditions (e.g. bed rest, an antidote to a poison, smelling salts)
    * You need outside help (perhaps skilled medical care)
    * You find yourself in a tight spot or unpleasant situation
    * It marks you in a permanent way
    On a miss, whatever else the MC says happens, you do not recover.
  • edited March 2014
    So, for the sake of our example, when Frodo gets run pinned to the wall of the cave, he rolls to resist harm and gets a 7-9. He chooses "You got lucky: you'll find later that the injury's not as big a deal as it seemed". He's incapacitated for the moment and unable to do anything, but when his companions inspect him after the fight, it turns out that his mithril armour saved him.

    After the fight, Aragorn is carrying him away when he comes to. He's probably still in a lot of pain, however, so he rolls to recover. Here he manages a 10+, and gets back on his feet with no trouble. It may hurt, but he's a sturdy hobbit and he can grit his teeth and keep going.

  • edited March 2014
    How does a character die under these rules? If you fail a "resist harm" roll, or succeed but choose options which mean you are potentially dead, you've been mortally injured (or perhaps you're already dead, and we just don't know yet!). You're lying on the battlefield, bleeding out, or still fighting but on your last legs. Now it comes down to the roll to recover: if you fail this one, you're a goner.

    This means getting injured is scary, but the odds of you dying from any particular injury are not as high as you might think. Someone with no hit points left has (approximately) a 17% chance of dying in a fight where they get seriously injured once (cumulative odds of rolling two misses). If you have any hit points to spend at all, your odds are better, of course.

    In any case, these rules make it clear what the nature of hit points truly is: hit points are a sort of buffer between you and death, giving your character a chance to survive dangerous situations, but they do not mean anything specific. You can lose hit points but avoid most of a blow, or vice-versa. There's no longer any ambiguity here about what they stand for or what they represent.

    Sidenote: If I was using these rules with Dungeon World, or a similar game which gives characters a lot of hit points, I'd consider treating them as *lifetime* hit points. Or, perhaps, allowing them to replenish very slowly (for instance, you get half of your class's bonus hit points - 2 for a Wizard, 5 for a Fighter - each time you take an advance).

    If you want to always keep death on the table, no one should be allowed to spend more than 4 hit points on any given roll.
  • The main design question here is:

    How do we decide when an injury is potentially lethal?

    I can see some solutions, but I'd like to hear yours, as well.

    * The MC decides when an injury is potentially lethal. If the fiction says it's something that could kill you, it can.
    * All injuries are assumed to be potentially lethal by default; the roll will determine whether this is the case or not.
    * We institute some kind of roll or other procedure to determine whether a source of damage is potentially lethal or not.

    For instance, we can add another MC-side roll into the equation, and give each monster a "lethality" rating, from 1 to 5. When a character gets hit by an attack, the MC rolls 2 dice before describing the injury.

    * If one die rolls a result equal to the lethality rating or lower, the attack is potentially lethal.
    * If both dice roll a result equal to or lower than the lethality rating, the attack is potentially instantly fatal.

    This is nice because it gives a nice range of odds for what we want, and feels AW-like (rolling 2d6).
  • There's a lot here to take in and I might have more to say on a second read. Here's a first impression, though, which I hope is helpful. My interests currently lie in the same direction as yours—gritty fiction-first dungeon crawling, powered by the Apocalypse. But, speaking only for me and my tastes, I really want to simplify! It looks like you're moving in the opposite direction, toward more complexity. For my part, what I'd want is a lot less mechanics and a lot more prompts and advice on using MC moves effectively to address different combat outcomes. Eg. Put them in a spot: like prone on the ground! Take away their stuff: like their weapon or their arm! Announce future badness: like a festering wound—time to start a countdown clock!
  • I'm not big on spending hit points and I'm not big on killing PCs (just want to make that clear), but if you've done all that's honest and possible and the character still fails that final roll, here's what to do: Sit there silently for a moment, then look somberly at the player, and address him by his character's name: "Boromir... What happens when you die?"
  • Is this in addition to any hitpoint damage you already take?
  • My reading is that getting hit does NOT deal Hp damage- it has fictional consequences only. So the player thinks about how badly they wanna avoid this blow and then stakes some Hp on the roll to avoid it. Hit or miss, that Hp is gone. This is a really cool idea!

    If I'm reading that correctly, then maybe a dinky little goblin hits you with a stick and you're like, "whatever, goblin. I'll save my Hp and roll +0 for the harm move." But then his big Cave Troll friend smashes you with a spiked club and you're all, "woah woah woah, this could kill me, I'll give up six Hp to survive it..." This is cool and I feel like it emulates a very real expenditure of energy and attention: the bigger the threat, the more exhausting it will be just to fight it. When you spend all your Hp avoiding the worst effects, you are tired, worn out, and have little left to give during the next battle.

    A character could theoretically always spend 0-1 Hp and rely on luck to survive, which seems fun and alright. Or they could strategically conserve Hp for the most fictionally dire hits coming their way. It is more complicated, overall, but it's a very neat idea.
  • Hmm. I just like the fact that in most PbtA games, there's a granularity of harm--that way there's a real difference between the little threats and the big ones. You have to work less in the fiction to make the harm move feel different. Like, reading the example moves, fictional context is the only reason to make the big threats seem big.
  • I've been mulling this over for a few hours since I first read it. I think I like it. Keeping hit points maintains the resource-manipulation (as opposed to just doing everything purely in narrative) aspect of a game system. Of course, it needs to be played to see if it's smooth in use.
  • 1. Yes, you spend hit points (or not) every time you roll a harm move, so they no longer represent your physical state. You could burn all your hit points in be in perfect health, or have all your hit points and still die.

    This makes hit points a resource, and spending them to survive encounters is a strategic choice you have to make. You can suffer through injuries now and risk death in order to save them for when it counts, or try to stay safe *now* in hopes that things will be better later. This is potentially very interesting, especially if your hit point pool is a lifetime supply: once your hero's "plot immunity" runs out, it may be time to retire (or face an increased risk of death, and hope that your experience and improved abilities are enough to handle what you're dealing with now).

    That could potentially create an interesting contrast between "brand new" adventurers and veterans, who have more skills and experience but less "beginner's luck" when it comes to getting hurt.

    2. @CarpeGuitarrem: that's my question with this hack, the thing I'm wondering about. Is it enough? I'd say it's pretty clear that the consequences of losing your arm are quite different from ingesting a deadly poison. But maybe it will feel unsatisfying in play.

    With standard hit points (as in AW), there's a big difference in granularity (3-harm is clearly a different deal from 1-harm), whereas here that is potentially lost. However, under these rules there's a great variation in the type of damage, instead: every injury is different and will affect in different ways. In AW, taking 2-harm from a hail of arrows is no different from taking 2-harm from a flamethrower or because something bit your leg. It's still the same number.

    Here, they will all be very different. So, the quantitative difference in injury is less apparent, but the hope is that the qualitative range of harm comes to the forefront instead.

    3. @creases: simplicity is always the goal, I think. I'd say that what I've outlined here is at roughly the same level of complexity as Dungeon World or Apocalypse World, or maybe a tiny bit simpler, but significantly more complex than World of Dungeons. However, there's also a great deal of flexibility built-in to a "resist harm" and "recover" move (it's easy to apply these moves to situations hit points couldn't handle, like concussions, mental issues, emotional trauma, broken legs, etc.). If you have suggestions on simplifying this further, I'd love to hear them!


    For comparison's sake:

    Dungeon World
    -Must track character hit points
    -Must track monster damage
    -Weapon and armor modifiers
    -Healing rules (including the "Recover" move, sleeping, making camp)
    -One "death" move (Last Breath)

    This Hack
    -Must track character hit points
    -Injuries must include detailed description
    -One "harm" move
    -One "recovery" move
    -Optionally, a monster harm rating and/or roll
  • So, I think my sticking point here (because I love the idea of qualitatively differentiating harm) is that the quantity of harm is, itself, a quality. So it doesn't quite feel right to give it all the same weight.

    What if it was closer to "for each point of HP spent" vs. "for every two points of HP spent" vs. "for every three points of HP spent" to differentiate normal (a goblin), massive (a troll), and absolutely brutally horrendous (a great big colossal monster like a giant dragon) hits? Because I feel like a description of the injury isn't quite as effective at differentiating the distinction between being stabbed by a knife and being smashed by a giant hammer.

    (I really like the HP-spending mechanism.)
  • Have you considered Paul Taliesin's AW harm moves? It seems like they could be ported to DW easily.
  • edited March 2014
    I'm not 100% sold, but I think it's very interesting. @Carpeguitarrem: I think the qualitative difference is in the fictional risk. Like, with this system it'd be legit for the player to say "wait, before I spend Hp and roll, what's the worst that could happen to me?" And the MC answers truthfully: "the ogre will probably break your arm" or "the henchman's blow will bruise you" or "the dragon may bite you in two."

    Then, the player decides how much Hp she's willing to stake on avoiding this. So she could spend 4hp to roll +4 when a trapped chest threatens to cut off her fingertip, or roll +4 when a mighty giant threatens to rip her arm off. It's the same +4 and the same expenditure, it's a question of when and how you save those points and what each wound is worth to you.

    It's fun and interesting and highlights the hp-as-a-resource aspect pretty well. There are downsides, though. Like, players probably will be nervous about spending Hp on any minor wound because they're afraid of being at the mercy of the dice later. This could lead to some awkward nickel-and-diming of someone's health and then a series of "nothing can hurt me because I'll spend 6+ Hp on every roll" situations. It also makes PCs less heroic, because instead of shrugging off mighty blows until the very end, they're getting excruciating detail on every little bit of harm they receive. It trades off the quick cinematic harm rules for a nuanced in-the-character's-shoes view of things.
  • edited March 2014
    Also, I very much like the idea of Hp refilling each day and not being a finite lifetime resource. That'd be so tedious and frightening and would lead to serious hoarding, I bet. It's more fun if it's like "this is today's pool of I Will Not Die." Spend it wisely!

    Edit: or at least per adventure
  • Have you considered Paul Taliesin's AW harm moves? It seems like they could be ported to DW easily.
    Ha! Assuming you were talking to me: yes, that was me. (I am Paul Taliesin.) Just exploring some other options here!

    I feel that those rules are better suited to something like Apocalypse World (where the characters are protagonists in a story and injury is a frightening thing, but you can always survive if you want to keep playing that character). This is a shot at doing something which could work in more of a dungeon-crawling mode (characters can and do die, we don't necessarily want to keep track of every little injury, and we want the system to be objective enough that the MC doesn't have to make any awkward choices but can act as impartial referee).

  • edited March 2014
    @Scrape: yes, you've got the gist of it.

    I wouldn't use rules like this in a game where you'd expect to get hurt 5 or 6 times in any significant confrontation. "Lord of the Rings" was one of my inspirations here, and so the ideal gameplay would look something like that. Most people go down after one solid hit, or maybe shrug off the first one but go down after the second one.

    But in those moments where you're willing to spend your precious hit points, you can have a moment of glory. That's Boromir at the end of the Fellowship: he's getting hit by arrows by he just keeps going, spending his life-force to protect the hobbits.

    Remember that when you get hit by something... you've definitely been injured. If you roll well, it just means you're able to soldier through and ignore the injury, like the hero of an action movie. You grit your teeth and you just keep fighting like nothing happened.

    (Just like hit points in D&D: you're still getting hurt, it's just that you're able to ignore the damage.)

    As for how many hit points you can regain and how often, that's a dial to play with. The more hit points you have, the less easy it should be to regain them. Maybe if all you've got is 1d6 hit points, you regain them all after each significant action scene, or whenever you rest. But if you've got lots of hit points (as in Dungeon World), they should be really hard to regain, so you can't just spend a ton of them each time you get hurt. (That's why I came up with the "lifetime hitpoints" idea, just as a thought experiment.)

    It's just a question of balancing how often you expect to get hurt with how many hit points you should be able to spend without running out. Depends on what kind of game you're playing and how many hit points we're talking about!

    As for hoarding: I don't particularly see any problem with this, so long as the characters' lives are under threat. If you want to be a hoarder, you might not survive very long... and when you do, you'll be the guy with the broken leg that your friends are carrying on the stretcher. You like to live dangerously! Fine, cool by me. But maybe you're right: that's something to check with playtesting!
  • Firstly, I really like the idea you've come up with here. I might consider using it next time I play DW. I still have some questions though.

    Where does armour come into this? I was thinking it could increase the total hit points, or increase the rate of hit point recovery? I think it would be a bit overpowered to give it a bonus to your resist damage roll, but then again armour is pretty overpowered in DW already.
  • edited March 2014
    Ah! Yes. Great point. Armour is one of the things I've been wondering about, and it doesn't slot into this terribly easily.

    Here are some options I've brainstormed so far:

    * Armour is handled narratively. It'll protect you under certain circumstances, like deflecting arrows fired at long range, but a serious attack that's already been described as successful is still dangerous as ever.
    * For someone to hurt you, they need a fictionally convincing way of getting past your armour.
    * This could be generalized for literary/on-screen effect: the first time the armour comes into play, it effectively stops an attack, but the next one will be treated normally.
    * Armour has its own small pool of hit points, which can be spent when relevant (e.g. you can't spend hit points from your chain mail when someone stabs you in the eye). You replenish them by repairing the armour.
    * Armour, when relevant, gives a +1 bonus to the resist harm move. If it should protect you completely, +2.
    * If you're using some kind of mechanic or roll for the lethality of monster attacks, the armour comes into play on the MC's side. With my suggested 2d6 for monster lethality, armour means the MC rolls 3d6 and discards the lowest die, or heavy/magical armour means you roll 4d6 and discard the two lowest dice.

    EDIT: It's also possible to simply abstract away armour just like DW already does it with weapons. As a Fighter you deal d10 damage because you're badass and you probably have big weapons. Similarly, then, if you have lots of hit points it's because you're badass and probably wear heavy armour.

  • Gotcha; I somehow was still thinking of normal DW Hp totals and picturing the hoarding going on. Makes more sense with less, for sure. Also, hearing that it's specifically the "non-heroic" version makes it click even harder. I like this idea quite a bit!

    The way I'd use it, though, is less "soldiering on despite injury" and more "turning what could have been a grievous injury into a minor one." Like how in FATE your Stress boxes represent avoiding a blow@ spending Hp is preventing that injury that would have landed. Slightly different implementation, I guess. Maybe seriously different? But I like the concept and general math, which I might use wholesale. Cool!
  • Paul, I think the most elegant solution for armor is simply +1 or +2 ongoing on the Harm roll.

    ...actually, you know what? Armor would be a fantastic way to solve that issue I've had with this hack. When you're hit by the attack, the GM tells you to take +something forward to the harm roll. That +something depends on what your armor is and what the attack is. A troll hammer might mean that your plate armor gives you +0 forward, while a goblin spear might let you take +2 forward on the roll. A fire elemental might make you take -1 forward, of course, against any armor...
  • Right on. That's my fifth option, from the list above.
  • We tried a "spend HP" method when first developing World of Dungeons. It worked very well!


    I like your version of the move(s). I'll give it a try next time we playDW or WoDu.
  • My only concern at this point is how to integrate it with class moves that interact with the damage and HP components of the system. (That, and do you just damage monsters like normal?)
  • Thanks, John! I'd love to hear how these things work in play, since I won't have any opportunity to test them myself for some time. (And that discussion, of course, is where I got this idea from in the first place.)


    If you're using this hack with Dungeon World, you'll want to keep using damage and hit points for monsters unchanged, which should allow you to use all (or the vast majority) of the class moves.

    (I'm not a huge fan of the mechanical damage-add moves, myself, but they're there, so if you're playing DW, you gotta deal.)
  • Monsters can have normal Hp because each individual monster has a tiny sliver of screen time compared to the PCs, and they will invariably die at the end. A lasting wound for a monster is what, like the thirty more seconds of life it has?
  • In the Frodo example, I kind of feel like the "you got lucky" option is kinda double-dipping or whatever. If you choose that one, you shouldn't need to make the recovery roll later. The way that scene plays to me is that he suffer a hit and the effects of it, and later rolls the recovery move, maybe with a bonus for the mithril and rolls really well.

    For reference, these are the harm rules in Throne of Dooms (a medieval fantasy drama game that I haven't finished yet):

    When you suffer harm, you can choose to give in or resist. If you give in, instead of rolling, take the wound as it was intended and mark experience. If you die, make a new character and take an advance right away.

    ● If you resist the harm, roll+dangerous. On a 10+, the wounds are cosmetic, superficial, and don’t hinder your actions. On a 7-9, the wound is crippling in some way. You lose the ability to use a limb or sense, either permanently or temporarily. On a miss, the wound is mortal. Create a countdown with steps equal to your will+1. Each time you take action without dealing with your wound first, mark a step. Also mark another step if you are injured again. When they are all marked (or if you have will-1), you die.

    ● If you are resisting harm by recovering, roll+dangerous. On a 10+, you recover quickly and as fully as possible. On a 7-9, you recover either quickly or fully, but not both. On a miss, you do not recover. If the wound is mortal, you do not survive. If the wound is not mortal, it either refuses to heal or leaves you debilitated when it does.

    If you have an advantage on your roll (armour, medicine, etc.), you can get a +1 to your roll.

    And the rules I'm using for the game of Traveller with AW stuff for resolution that I'm running:

    Harm numbers are pretty much the same as in AW. Roll harm in dice and keep the two highest (1 harm = roll 3 dice, keep the two lowest). On a 10+, the wound is mortal. Create a countdown with steps equal to 1+endurance. Each time you take action without dealing with your wound, mark a step. When you mark all steps (or if you have endurance-1), you die. On a 7-9, the wound is crippling. On a miss, the wound is cosmetic, but you might still fall over or drop something.

    So basically, the same as above but reversed, and with actual harm ratings.
  • Johnstone,

    I like those! Very nice. I'm glad some good stuff came out of our earlier conversations on this topic!

    Looking over your moves; I guess that means there's no way for someone to be killed "on the spot"? (I was trying to keep that option because I was thinking of using something like this in a somewhat OSR-like mode of play.)

    Why do you change the number of dice for the harm roll in your Traveller game (as opposed to dice+adds, or something else)? Is it an aesthetic choice, or something particular you're looking for with the distribution? Also, who rolls?

    As for Frodo's near escape, I agree with you. I suppose the question here is whether a) the wound is "hampering" him even after the fight's over, and b) whether he's fighting to recover from other effects (like having been knocked unconscious or whatever). I like your take on it, though - that might be a better way to deal with it.

  • edited March 2014
    There's no way to die instantly after the dice come out, no. In Throne, the player can take the xp for a fatal blow, and their next character starts with an advance. And there's always narrative death, where there's no chance in the fiction of the character surviving. But people dying instantly from violent attacks is more cinematic than realistic, so I'm cool with giving PCs the chance to reach medical attention while they are bleeding to death.

    Multiple dice is from Black Seas of Infinity, which is semi-related. Stats are numbers of dice, you get penalties and bonuses through a few limited means. Anybody can roll, it doesn't matter who.
  • Gotcha, thanks!
  • edited March 2014
    Here's something I'm tinkering with. This would be an alternate move for "Last Breath" in those last seconds of a character's life (i.e., this move is not mandatory, but may be performed if the player chooses).

    When you are Breathing Your Last Breath, you may choose to roll+ your highest stat. On a 10+, the GM will select one event from the list below, and you select another. On a 7-9, you may select one.

    - Final Words
    - Controlled Collapse
    - Curse your Enemy
    - Inspire your Friends
    - Watch from Beyond
    - Transcending Vision
    - Sudden Understanding

    Final Words = you speak a short soliloquy for which combat time is momentarily halted
    Controlled Collapse = you decide how your body falls (this may be of tactical or symbolic value).
    Curse your Enemy = select an enemy and hold a single -3 against it, to be played when you decide
    Inspire your Friends = anyone with a Bond for you receives a +1 for the duration of this scene
    Watch from Beyond = hold a single +3 for a selected friend, to be played whenever you decide
    Transcending Vision = a vision of the cosmos/heaven/hell, a communication from your deity
    Sudden Understanding = the GM tells you a secret that provides a new perspective. This could be the Impending Doom of an active Front, the meaning of a Portent, a revelation of the enemy's strategy, a glimpse into the mind of an NPC, etc.

  • Completely insignificant semantic contribution: in this hack HP should be renamed "Stamina."
  • Hmmm. I'd call it something juicier than that, if it's gonna be renamed.
  • I dunno, maybe it's just because of video games, but to me it makes sense to expend or conserve Stamina in response to injuries.
  • "Mortality" has some oomph. Mortalis - memento mori ('remember that you will die'). Vigor, Vim and Vitality would be some positive alternatives.
  • Will. Willpower. Grit. Essence. Resolve. Determination. Force (use it, Luke). Push (as in you're pushing it). Fuckitall.
  • So, who's brave enough to playtest this?
  • Very nice, I like this a lot!
  • @Paul_T: at the very least, I might steal it for a game I'm assembling. I think it somewhat fits with ideas I'd been cooking up.

    I'll also keep it in mind if I have a group that's tried vanilla Dungeon World...that's the trick.
  • edited March 2014
    I like your ideas here!
  • I will certainly test this at my next session, which will be a week from Saturday. I'll post results here, along with any drift we take.

    I'll give them one HP pool for the session (refresh would occur between sessions, if necessary) and let them game it how they feel best. It's a pretty old school oriented group, so it'll be interesting to see what they make of it.

    Interestingly, this solves a problem we've had in the past where as GM I really didn't care a lot about HP on the player end because it got in the way of what we were doing in the game. This incentives players focusing on positioning in a very particular and careful way. Lots to think on here.
  • edited March 2014
    Great; it would be fun to get some playtest of this in action. Please report back in this thread, and let us know how it goes!

    My latest thinking on this:

    1. If you're playing a game where hit points are sparse (like WoD), you should be able to reroll your hit points pretty easily, like by resting and eating.

    For instance, let's say you have 1d6 hit points, and you roll a 4. You get hit a few times, and you have 1 hit point left. When you get back to safety, bandage your wounds, have a meal, you can reroll that 1d6 and write down the new result as your hit points (as long as it's higher than your current hit points; this shouldn't hurt you, of course).

    2. If you want to play Dungeon World, or a similar game with lots of hit points, either make hit points really hard to regain, or reduce the number of them.

    I recommend this:

    Option 1

    - If it's a long-term game, remove "natural healing" (after all, hit points aren't physical damage). You get half of your starting class hit points every time you score an advance (e.g. 5 hit points for a Fighter). Healing spells work normally, however.

    Option 2

    - If it's a short-term game, halve all hit point totals, rounding up. So a Cleric starting with 8+Constitution hit points has (8+11) 19 hit points? Now he has 10. Treat all the healing rules normally.

    3. For the lethality of wounds, assume that any wound which sounds like it could plausibly kill someone is lethal. Assume the worst, in other words, every time.

    4. For armour, pick one of the options below and let us know how it works for you:

    Option 1

    If you're wearing armour or protection which shields or protects you from a source of damage, you get to roll at +1 [like Armour 1 or 2 in DW]. If the armour or protection is designed to protect you completely against this kind of threat (e.g. plate mail against slingstones), so you're basically impervious to such an attack, make your rolls at +2 [like Armour 3 or 4 in DW].

    However, your opponents should be smart and switch to tactics which circumvent armour whenever possible. So you might get an easy time of it the first time they attack you, and maybe the second time, but after that they're likely to try something more clever. (Chain mail is susceptible to crushing weapons, for example.)

    This bonus should depend on your position and circumstances; it's not a simple bonus that applies all the time just because you're holding a shield and wearing chain mail or whatever.

    Option 2

    For each point of armour rating, give that item of protection a single checkbox. You can put a line through a box to take +1 on a resist harm roll when the item would logically protect you. You can use as many boxes as you like, and you can even put a second line through a box (making a "X") for another +1.

    After a fight is over, erase any single lines through boxes, but those with two lines (an "X", crossing out the box) stay - these are "spent" for good. This represents permanent damage to your armour, shield, or whatever. (But it can probably be repaired, if you have access to a blacksmith or some similar means of doing so.)

    So, a suit of scale armour (armour 2, weight 3) has two "boxes": [ ] [ ]. You could put a line through one box and cross out the second for a total of +3 to your roll: [/] [X]. After the fight, you can erase the line through the first box, but the second box is now crossed out for good: [ ] [X].
  • edited March 2014
    I'm planning on doing the following:
    *Dungeon World one shot adventure, to encourage buy-in and experimental mindset
    *Dungeon with multiple monsters, traps, and environmental hazards to encounter - different modes of injury to explore with description
    *Level 1 characters
    *HP pools are calculated normally and halved as above- no more HP until the module is over.
    *GMing: Will treat 'deal damage' move as 'injure characters'. Deadly moves on misses, maiming or injury on partial hits when applicable. Fiction first.
    *Armor applied 1:1 against passive checks, 1:2 against active defenses -trying to avoid 'gotchas' here, don't want a ten-foot pole session, so I'll give players the benefit of the doubt, but will include hazards that avoid armor (gas? crushing?).

    If someone else wants to try the other options, I'd love to hear how those worked out as well!
  • I would like it better if you spent hit points after your roll to resist damage, each hit point adding 1 to your result. The situation of gambling hit points and still getting a bad result would be very unrewarding for me and make the resource feel flimsy instead of concrete and really useful. It would also make me feel a lot more reserved about spending them.

    I also agree that some monsters should be more dangerous then others. It makes the most sense to me to represent this on the resist harm roll as a minus to the roll, with more dangerous monsters having a higher negative modifier. A monster with a high modifier pretty much guarantees you'll be spending a lot of hit points if you go toe to toe with it.

    I also think one of the character's stats should play into this roll, similarly to defy danger, even though that would complicate the math a little more. Some characters should be better at resisting damage then others, right?
  • I really like Orion's suggestion of adding HP after the roll, great idea
  • edited March 2014

    Cool! I like the sound of that.

    [...] It would also make me feel a lot more reserved about spending them.
    Well, that's precisely the idea. We *want* the players to be spending smaller amounts of hit points, so the result of the roll remains interesting. (Ideally, we get 7-9 or 10+ results on most harm rolls.)

    Feel free to try it the other way, of course! It does remove any risk from getting hurt, though, since you can always choose how safe you are (until you run out of hit points, of course).

    If I have 10 hit points, I know that nothing can kill me, for example. Even if I roll a 2, I can spend 8 points to upgrade it to a 10+.

    I don't like that effect; I want things to be scary all the time. But maybe you do!
    I also agree that some monsters should be more dangerous then others. It makes the most sense to me to represent this on the resist harm roll as a minus to the roll, with more dangerous monsters having a higher negative modifier. A monster with a high modifier pretty much guarantees you'll be spending a lot of hit points if you go toe to toe with it.
    The idea here is to keep to the basic logic of AW-based games, which is that in more dangerous situations your odds of success don't change... instead, it's what's at stake which becomes more serious.

    A truly dangerous monster will be harder to attack (like the 16-HP dragon, if you're familiar with that), and more likely to threaten injuries which are really horrifying. This means you'll be spending more hit points over time.

    For instance, a knife stab to the arm is pretty scary, but you'd feel fairly comfortable risking a bad roll. But when a monster grabs you with its prehensile tongue, pulls you into its mouth and chomps down on your helpless body, you'll probably want to spend some more hit points, no? Even setting aside the danger of death (although that's clearly the biggest factor here!), you'll probably be a lot more worried about not getting impaled on its teeth and being unable to do anything, and also more worried about getting a chance to react and maybe get away before it chomps you away. Both of those are more likely if you spend those hit points.

    That's my take on it, anyway. I could be wrong!
    I also think one of the character's stats should play into this roll, similarly to defy danger, even though that would complicate the math a little more. Some characters should be better at resisting damage then others, right?
    I think that, in most games with hit points, your stats already affect how many hit points you have. So this sounds like double-dipping to me. On the other hand, it could be a good opportunity for some special moves, which give a bonus to resist harm or to recover.
  • What if the ability to spend hp after the roll is a special power, granted occasionally by magic or other circumstance?
  • edited March 2014
    I think it's a great space to play with special abilities and such!

    Another option is including a ratio: maybe you can spend 1 hit point for a +1 before the roll, but after the dice have fallen, it just costs you 6 hit points to upgrade your result by one category. (I initially thought "2 points per +1" but that just seems like unnecessary complication here: might as well go with a "flat rate" for simplicity.)

    You could also limit the improvement after the roll to one category (so a miss can, at most, be upgraded to a 7-9).
  • edited March 2014
    I'm interested in why we think DW is giving too many HP to play with for this system. If a character has 20 HP and they're being conservative; let's say they're spending 1HP on each roll. They get ten horrible injuries if they're rolling to avoid the worst harm and also to recover after the fact. And then they're out of HP. That's just a few fights, right? Or maybe we're thinking of "horrible" differently?

    I guess I'm interested to know how quickly you folks envision these things draining away.
  • This is a neat thread. We've been playing without HPs. I hadn't thought about using moves for suffering a wound or trying to recover from it. I'd like to give these a try.

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