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Old 03-02-2021, 06:23 AM   #81
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

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Originally Posted by Opellulo View Post
Why a GM chose to include a scenario where certain death (of a PC or a NPC) is necessary? Maybe is a plot device (damn you Salazar, I will have my revenge!) maybe is a teaching moment (never wake up a sleeping dragon!) maybe is the climax of a story (where all bets and brakes are off).

I personally don't like the genocide level of killing there is classic fantasy roleplay games: I like instead to build my scenarios around moral and ethical challenges, and then let the players chose their own path around (or through) it. In my games the fights are quite scarce (no more than one or two for session) and they are almost always because of PC choices: so I design them to be challenging, dangerous and interesting in an effort to make them memorable.
On one hand, you seem to think that the GM decides at the outset, "In this session [or in this adventure], someone is going to die." And that's a much more controlling approach to running adventures than I would ever use. I don't necessarily even plan that there will be a fight, or a confrontation with physical danger; I confront the PCs with situations, and how they approach them is up to the players.

On the other hand, if the PCs do decide to get into a fight, there is always risk. A PC may be killed outright; or they may endure permanent crippling; or they may fail a Fright Check and be left psychologically impaired. The willingness to take a chance of these things happening is, among other things, a source of drama; it asks the players, "Does your character care enough about X to risk permanent impairment?" It's the "skin in the game" that puts tension in an RPG.

And on the other other hand, you don't need "genocide level" for this. Quite a small chance of permanent consequences can still provide that underlying tension.
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Old 03-02-2021, 07:19 AM   #82
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

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Originally Posted by Opellulo View Post
Why a GM chose to include a scenario where certain death (of a PC or a NPC) is necessary? Maybe is a plot device (damn you Salazar, I will have my revenge!) maybe is a teaching moment (never wake up a sleeping dragon!) maybe is the climax of a story (where all bets and brakes are off).
Or maybe it's just something that arose organically during play. Perhaps the PC's are on a quest to rescue villagers from the orcs who abducted them. During the battle that follows their botched attempt to sneak in and sneak out with the villagers, one of the orcs, realizing he's no match for adventurers of this caliber and wanting to survive, opts to take one of the villagers hostage, with a knife to her neck. Or maybe the PC's uncover a mole in their organization, and the mole takes one of their coworkers hostage, a gun to the man's temple. Or a member of the party gets captured and the others go into hiding - so the Big Bad parades the bound PC out, forces him to his knees, has a guard raise a crossbow to aim at the PC's throat, and demands the others show themselves or he'll order his man to fire.

Sure, in each of those cases, the GM is making a decision to have the NPC behave in this manner, but it's not as part of some railroad plot - it's simply a case of "What would this character do in this situation?"

And, of course, the opposite situations could occur - a PC (even a heroic one) might take an enemy hostage to escape a bad situation, force enemies out of hiding, etc. If the game system lacks any means by which the PC could make good on his threat, the player may opt not to even try, reducing his options ("Hmmm... Realistically, I could grab the Black Prince and put a dagger to his throat, and his father should call off his guards and let me go free. But seeing as the Prince is at least a 10th level fighter and I only have a 1d4/x2 dagger, it would take me something like a dozen critical hits to even get him to 0 HP, so that's not going to work. Guess I'll just run for it?"), and I prefer characters to have a lot of options on how to deal with something whenever possible.

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Originally Posted by Opellulo View Post
I personally don't like the genocide level of killing there is classic fantasy roleplay games: I like instead to build my scenarios around moral and ethical challenges, and then let the players chose their own path around (or through) it. In my games the fights are quite scarce (no more than one or two for session) and they are almost always because of PC choices: so I design them to be challenging, dangerous and interesting in an effort to make them memorable.
Yeah, a lot of fantasy gaming involves killing ridiculous numbers of enemies (in no small part because this is how you advance via experience points). A lot of players really enjoy combat, however, so when playing with those large body counts are nearly inevitable (unless using rules that make death unlikely, and having plots/settings/tropes that discourage killing your foes - or at least encourage keeping them alive).
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Old 03-02-2021, 08:25 AM   #83
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

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Originally Posted by Varyon
Or maybe it's just something that arose organically during play.
Yeah that's the idea but there is a problem: many combat oriented systems have really poor mechanics to simulate anything that's not a way to kill your enemy. In D&D/Pathfinder the options to knockout or applying non-lethal damage are almost always class restricted and ALWAYS less efficient that going for the kill: in those Worlds choosing anything that's not reducing your opponent to 0 HP is a tactical failure.
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The willingness to take a chance of these things happening is, among other things, a source of drama; it asks the players, "Does your character care enough about X to risk permanent impairment?" It's the "skin in the game" that puts tension in an RPG.
Exactly! A Fight is a source for drama! Tension, Risk, Danger, Choices and Consequences.

In many D&D (and many Videogames) instead "fight" is the only possible activity and murder = XP. It's unnerving (and quite troubling) how one of the most heinous act possible is converted in just a token for power grow. I personally find this not only plain WRONG but also extremely boring.

And Hit Points are just the embodiment of this process, in some Pathfinder games I joined they were, at best, a time optimization resource: "we cannot withstand another round so we need to thin the baddies ranks" more often than that they were just a way to sort the marching order and/or the engagement distance.

I understand who wants to play a tactical skirmish game but, frankly, it's not my cup of tea: I prefer to play a game where every choice (even combat ones) have interesting effects more than a random "roll dices and subtract numbers until you run out" game.
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Old 03-02-2021, 08:30 AM   #84
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

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GM is also left to define what "obviously lethal" is. It's a bad first since that can be a blurry line with weak weapons and strong characters.

Handwaiving this also seems to be a contradiction to 4e abandoning 3e's decapitation rules because it too easily caused deaths.

If the absolute minimum damage is guaranteed kill then yeah sure, ignore it, but otherwise I'd just say to follow the rules.
If a knife held to a hostage's throat isn't "obviously lethal," then I don't know what is. This rule exists specifically to preclude the weirdness described by the OP (the seeming non-lethality of a knife held to the throat of a hostage when using the GURPS injury and damage system), so it's strange for you to say to "follow the rules" instead--this is a rule, straight from Basic. It sounds like your advice is to ignore this rule, not to "follow the rules," which is fine of course, no one has to use every rule in the books.

Or do you think this rule exists to handle a different scenario than the one described?
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Old 03-02-2021, 12:34 PM   #85
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

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Originally Posted by Opellulo View Post
Yeah that's the idea but there is a problem: many combat oriented systems have really poor mechanics to simulate anything that's not a way to kill your enemy.
Indeed. GURPS does have a lot of options, ranging from mundane grappling to supernatural Afflictions (and with plenty in-between, like cinematic sleep poisons), but not every game does.

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Originally Posted by Opellulo View Post
In D&D/Pathfinder the options to knockout or applying non-lethal damage are almost always class restricted and ALWAYS less efficient that going for the kill: in those Worlds choosing anything that's not reducing your opponent to 0 HP is a tactical failure.
From a narrative - and realistic - perspective, this is largely how things should be. Not going for the kill should be more difficult - you're purposefully limiting yourself to non-lethal methods. Characters don't avoid killing because it's easier to subdue than kill - they avoid killing because of the consequences of doing so (and note for some characters, "someone is no longer alive because of me" is a harsh enough consequence for them to avoid killing). There can be exceptions to this, of course - some foes are sufficiently difficult to kill you basically have to subdue them first. Even then, however, killing is often easier - if for no other reason than not being at risk of the foe later escaping.

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Originally Posted by Opellulo View Post
In many D&D (and many Videogames) instead "fight" is the only possible activity and murder = XP. It's unnerving (and quite troubling) how one of the most heinous act possible is converted in just a token for power grow. I personally find this not only plain WRONG but also extremely boring.
Yes, one needs to be careful what choices are incentivized in a game (and elsewhere). As a counter-example, consider Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, wherein you get bonus XP for knocking out an enemy instead of killing them, and further bonus XP for being stealthy (which in turn makes using non-lethal methods more feasible, as you aren't needing to close to melee or use a low-RoF weapon while in the middle of a firefight). Personally, I feel that's rather artificial, and favor the approach of things like Metal Gear Solid V and Death Stranding (in the former, captured foes can be converted to join your forces, and there's also a hidden "demon points" tracker that goes up when you kill people and animals, so it's ultimately best to avoid killing; in the latter, you need to take the corpse of anyone you kill to a remote disposal facility or you get a game-over when their body creates a BT that annihilates a large chunk of land).

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Originally Posted by Opellulo View Post
And Hit Points are just the embodiment of this process, in some Pathfinder games I joined they were, at best, a time optimization resource: "we cannot withstand another round so we need to thin the baddies ranks" more often than that they were just a way to sort the marching order and/or the engagement distance.

I understand who wants to play a tactical skirmish game but, frankly, it's not my cup of tea: I prefer to play a game where every choice (even combat ones) have interesting effects more than a random "roll dices and subtract numbers until you run out" game.
This is much more the case in other games than GURPS, although GURPS does have some aspects of that. Note the Conditional Injuries rules we've been discussing make HP no longer a resource like this - rather, there's an effects-based approach to wounding.
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Old 03-02-2021, 03:24 PM   #86
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

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Originally Posted by Opellulo View Post
In D&D/Pathfinder the options to knockout or applying non-lethal damage are almost always class restricted and ALWAYS less efficient that going for the kill
I don't remember earlier editions all that well any more, but at least in 5th edition D&D, knocking someone out is exactly as easy as killing them, and is an option available to literally every character.

And milestone progression completely detaches character progression from kills while also making play simpler. Even if you use the regular progression, the rules suggest giving XP for non-combat encounters at the same rate as combat encounters, assuming they have some risk of consequences for failure.
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Old 03-03-2021, 09:36 AM   #87
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

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I don't remember earlier editions all that well any more, but at least in 5th edition D&D, knocking someone out is exactly as easy as killing them, and is an option available to literally every character.
In 3.x, I believe that using a lethal weapon for subdual damage was a -4 to hit. You could get around this a couple ways - fighting unarmed (which was always subdual, but had low damage and provoked Attacks of Opportunity), or specifically using non-lethal weapons like saps or magical weapons with the Merciful modifier. Monks and Rogues were in the best shape here - the former because they had markedly improved unarmed damage (that didn't provoke AoO's), the latter because a Sneak Attack (doable simply by flanking most foes) with a non-lethal weapon also did subdual damage. Using non-lethal weapons was often a bad idea, however - many enemies were immune to subdual damage (so you'd need two weapons), at later levels you're fairly dependent on having magical weapons, and having two magical weapons (one lethal, one non-lethal) generally meant neither was as good as having just one (as you had to split your funds between them). Of course, there was one funny quirk to the way subdual damage worked - you could simply strike the foe (at -4) with subdual damage until you'd dealt enough to equal or exceed the maximum your weapon could deal (typically doable in 2 hits, and almost certainly within 3, if you're willing to risk an unlucky high-damage crit at exactly the wrong moment killing the target), then switch to fully-lethal damage, as there was no risk of dropping the target below 0 HP before they fell unconscious from having subdual damage equal to their HP. This could make capture missions look really weird, as the heroes pull their punches in the beginning but then go all-out once they've landed a few stunning hits.
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Old 03-03-2021, 03:34 PM   #88
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

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If a knife held to a hostage's throat isn't "obviously lethal," then I don't know what is.
Depends on which knife and which hostage. Is it a dull butterknife? Is Ben Grimm?

The ideal would be to have a stat-based way (derived from how much damage you can do and how much damage it takes to kill a foe) that allows us to measure when to apply lethality handwaving.

4e abandoning 3e damage amounts required for decapitation because that's too lethal makes me think they don't want this idea used too broadly, as in to be considered obviously lethal in 4e an attack ought to at minimum do more damage than the generic 3e decapitation thresholds, or else why abandon them?

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Originally Posted by Gnome View Post
This rule exists specifically to preclude the weirdness described by the OP (the seeming non-lethality of a knife held to the throat of a hostage when using the GURPS injury and damage system), so it's strange for you to say to "follow the rules" instead--this is a rule, straight from Basic.
The straight rule is actually not straight at all though, because it doesn't define "obvious" meaning a GM could rule that an attack that could at most do 1 cutting damage (1d-5) is "obviously lethal" to a high-HP foe, even though that's probably not "obvious" in other gamers' opinions.

It sounds like your advice is to ignore this rule, not to "follow the rules," which is fine of course, no one has to use every rule in the books.

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Or do you think this rule exists to handle a different scenario than the one described?
I figure it exists to cover the situation of saving time where even the minimum damage roll possible would take you below -5xHP.

http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/faq/FAQ4-3.html#SS3.4.5.4

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Originally Posted by 3.4.5.4 What happened to the Neck hit location?
The rules are the same as for Third Edition, except that there is no automatic or resisted decapitation anymore. It can only happen as a special effect of an ordinary killing blow to the neck.
I think the "resisted" is referencing 3eB248 "Throat" rules:
If the neck takes full hit point damage from an edged weapon, a successful HT roll is necessary to avoid decapitation!
Not sure about the "automatic" part, maybe that got introduced elsewhere?

If we don't even have "full HP to neck chance of auto death" rules anymore in 4e, then the "obviously lethal" rules in 4e must be intended to be even more extreme.

I'd estimate perhaps 2xHP in a single hit, given the Extra Head formula.

Even then, I think it's feasible to treat decapitation via means other than insta-death. You'd immediately suffocate (FP loss 1/second) and be Mute, and suffer Quadriplegic and make a HT check to avoid Stun (it's a Major Wound) and whatever HP is left, you're beeding out (HP loss 1/30 seconds?) maybe if you're a mage you can still get off a no-ritual spell in 1 or 2 seconds before losing consciousness?

In the case of decapitation, if we were going to actually crunch the numbers, I think since this fulfills two "1 per 30" situations on MA138 (both "dismemberment" and "neck") we ought to at least make that as frequent as 1 hit point per 15 seconds.

Basic Set decapitation handwaives seem possibly outdated as of Martial Arts introducing the spine location though. I can buy DR 100 (Spine -80%) [100] because I want it to be really hard to attach my spinal cord, and severing the spinal cord is an inherent aspect of decapitation.

Spine takes >HP to cripple (11 injury for 10 HP, which requires 8 penetrating damage using cutting 1.5 multiplier boosting it to 12... which requires 11 basic damage due to spine having DR 3) and you need twice the pre-limit injury to destroy body parts (22 injury for 10 HP... requiring 15 penetrating damage) which takes 18 basic damage to do.

11 to cripple spine (22 to destroy w/ 15 basic cutting) is not only beyond 3e's full HP req to potentially decapitate, but even beyond the Extra Head formula of 2xhp/#ofheads

12 injury isn't quite
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Old 03-04-2021, 02:44 AM   #89
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

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4e abandoning 3e damage amounts required for decapitation because that's too lethal makes me think they don't want this idea used too broadly, as in to be considered obviously lethal in 4e an attack ought to at minimum do more damage than the generic 3e decapitation thresholds, or else why abandon them?
The issue wasn't that it was too lethal, but that decapitation is much, much harder than just killing someone and the rules didn't reflect that.
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Old 03-04-2021, 07:50 AM   #90
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

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The issue wasn't that it was too lethal, but that decapitation is much, much harder than just killing someone and the rules didn't reflect that.
Indeed. Fiction tends to treat the neck likes its made out of Styrofoam when decapitation happens. In reality it's more like trying to cut through a 4x4, there's a reason the head and neck are braced when going for that execution style. Even then, executioners sometimes had to hit the neck 3 or 4 times to sever the head, and that's a helpless, unmoving target!
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