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Old 02-25-2021, 11:07 AM   #1
Lameth
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

I just watched an interesting video on D&D and the concept of perhaps "are hit points outdated?"

In the video it brought up examples of things like:

The party is given the choice of the crime boss's knife against the throat of the young hostage and they leave, or she dies. Or the possessed nobleman being forced to kill himself in front of the crowd with a crossbow to his own head. Or the hero waking to a knife to his throat and if he moves, he dies. Or that rogue sneaks behind the sleeping guard and slits hit throat.

In most RPGs the Hit Points are a factor of how much you can live through, and how much you can take. So to often the heroes may look at the crime boss and just attack, knowing that they can take him out, and then get to the girl well before she takes enough damage to die. Or that nobleman can only take maybe 1d4 (its D&D in this case) to the head, and then even if you x2 it or x5 it!!, the odds that 10th level fighter noble will die instantly as the story says he should is very low, and with a simple healing spell of a few points its "oh hes fine, no problem everyone!".

Yes in GURPS there are critical hits, vitals, and so on, but even with that things can go off the story and come down to numbers., which is against the purpose of a story, tension, drama, and role playing.

If you needed that PC to know that if you do this, that NPC woman's throat will be cut and no matter how fast you think you are in combat, she will die. Yes she has a HT of 8, and yes she can go down to x5 before auto death, and yes she will be making health rolls for death, but no...if you press the bad guy blood will flow. Or when the PC walks into the dark room and from behind they hear the light click of the gun to their back...if you move you will not just take 2d6 to vitals, no, you may take maybe x4 or x5!!, and its automatically a major wound and stunning and so forth, due to you not being prepared for the attack and are at a disadvantage in this.

If there is no sense of danger or automatic crippling or death in those rare movie drama moments, and a simple healing spell or a fast compress to the throat can stop any tension, then what is the best middle ground?

No im not looking for auto death of the PCs, but to give a higher sense that there is true danger outside of your hit points pool totals, and the death rolls with a 16 that you will always make. Giving more sense of danger to dangerous dramatic situations and a sense of dread and allowing PCs to see past "well I have a potential pool of 55, and that arrow can only do 8 or maybe 16, and my HT is a 15, so ya ill charge the guy and take the arrow aimed at me by the sniper, if needed, screw it, ill be fine". Where these are not my players most times, im sure in any game this happens.

So as a die hard GURPS GM for decades I was wondering do any of you have rules built in for when the story says death, or near to it should just happen, period, and hit points have nothing to do with it? Or if that PC is shot from the back by surprise they are going down, or that sleeping guard getting his throat cut is dead, period.

Last edited by Lameth; 02-25-2021 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 02-25-2021, 11:19 AM   #2
Anders
 
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

In situations where it would be ridiculous for someone to survive (like bathing in lava, which does 10d burning and you could roll all 1s) I just say "you're dead" or "he's dead, Jim."

Edit: Isn't there a conditions-based injury in one of the Pyramids? For some reason Douglas Cole springs to mind.
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Old 02-25-2021, 11:28 AM   #3
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

On the other hand, source fiction has plenty of examples of heroes that take a beating, and keep on going, gradually getting worn down.

I was struck back when I saw Taken, with Liam Neeson, for example. It seemed like a classic D&D dungeon to me. In one early fight scene, he starts a fight in a tiny interrogation room with half a dozen mooks. Sure, they're in arm's reach -- but in a realistic game, there's no way he wouldn't have been dead on the floor. All it would take would be one of them (even if he's the last of six) to pull a trigger. But, our hero takes them all out, because they're mooks. But he does get a little beaten up. There are a few more encounters, leaving him more tired and bedraggled looking after each, which of course just serves to make the final boss fight that much more dramatic. That progression would be well modelled by wearing away an ablative hit point resource, hoping not to run out before you finish the dungeon.
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Old 02-25-2021, 11:25 AM   #4
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lameth View Post
I was wondering do any of you have rules built in for when the story says death, .
I don't let stories determine outcomes for me and I'm definitely not there to tell stories to my players.

I'd tell them what the npc was trying to do and if they asked I'd tell them what their characters estimated were the odds of preventing it. I would not go an inch out of my way to try and make sure that Nyx the Barbarian wouldn't be able to move that far under a Great Haste Spell and send her Flaming Morningstar through the npc's skull before his hand could finish twitching.

The situations you're theoretically trying to set up aren't that realtistic when talking about a highly competent set of PCs and if the rules say that isn't what would happen then the "story" can go suck lemons.
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Old 02-25-2021, 11:50 AM   #5
Lameth
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
I don't let stories determine outcomes for me and I'm definitely not there to tell stories to my players.

I'd tell them what the npc was trying to do and if they asked I'd tell them what their characters estimated were the odds of preventing it. I would not go an inch out of my way to try and make sure that Nyx the Barbarian wouldn't be able to move that far under a Great Haste Spell and send her Flaming Morningstar through the npc's skull before his hand could finish twitching.

The situations you're theoretically trying to set up aren't that realtistic when talking about a highly competent set of PCs and if the rules say that isn't what would happen then the "story" can go suck lemons.
Sorry Fred, that's not what I meant. I meant, lets say the thug has the knife against the woman's throat and the PCs press the attack. The thug does the deed and rolls 3 points of cutting, and even to the throat that is not enough to kill the NPC, let alone bring her near a serious death... therefore "some" PCs knowing the math would not be that concerned with the stand off all that much. Its not a matter of just killing someone...its a matter of when the concept of HPs is not realistic to real life nor what would happen and to rev up the sense of danger in some rare'ish situations.

Yes its a game, yes there is magic and monsters, but there is still reality, physics, and biology.. and most importantly drama, intrigue, stress, danger, tension, and Story. We are not just game referees, but also story makers and tellers as well as entertainers in my opinion.

So maybe that defenseless woman, having the knife against her throat, no hope of fighting back, would not take just listed damage but maybe something like an extra multiplier or 2 or "double" whatever she should be at for being defenseless, or at a true disadvantage? Therefore her rolls are worse, so would her recusing by the PCs in the nick of time would be all the more fantastic due to her being so close to really dying and not just having a scar.

That is what i am talking about.
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Old 02-25-2021, 12:01 PM   #6
Gnome
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Cambridge, MA
Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

I don't know if this helps, but here's what's on B423:

Instant Death
Decapitation, a cut throat, etc. can kill anyone, regardless of HT and HP. If a helpless or unconscious person is attacked in an obviously lethal way, he’s dead. Don’t bother to roll for damage, calculate remaining HP, etc. Just assume that he drops to -5xHP.

The GM is left to define what "helpless" means, but if a strong thug has an ordinary person grappled with a knife held to the person's throat, you could as a GM rule the person is helpless.
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Old 02-25-2021, 12:11 PM   #7
Lameth
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnome View Post
I don't know if this helps, but here's what's on B423:

Instant Death
Decapitation, a cut throat, etc. can kill anyone, regardless of HT and HP. If a helpless or unconscious person is attacked in an obviously lethal way, heís dead. Donít bother to roll for damage, calculate remaining HP, etc. Just assume that he drops to -5xHP.

The GM is left to define what "helpless" means, but if a strong thug has an ordinary person grappled with a knife held to the person's throat, you could as a GM rule the person is helpless.
very good point thank you Gnome.
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Old 02-25-2021, 03:20 PM   #8
bocephus
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

I feel the need to give a PTSD warning. There's some real world imagary in this post and we have military/medical/law enforcment people on this forum that may not cotton to this. I know as I typed this I had to take a moment afterwards, I think I cleaned most of it out, Just be aware



I did all this stuff below and realized... Yes the hostage technically survived having their throat cut... but they dont survive. In any form of realism the hostage dies at the end of having their throat cut. Magic and stuff make it weird, but taking that much damage to your neck isnt ultimately survivable without something fantastical (and that is not in any way available in "realism").

I think people are underestimating the rest of the Rules As Written. While you cavalierly toss "well -4x or -5x HPs is so far down"... You arent accounting for the damage very well. (I had to look a lot of this up cause I dont usually get this far in the weeds for a generic hostage).

Cutting does x1.5 damage RAW
Cutting the neck does x2 RAW B399

Thug is standing behind the target and has maximum leverage, its a hostage. I wouldn't make a PC roll to hit, nor roll damage (it would be max in this case), but I would let them crit fish/crit fail and thats all a roll would be for.

Knife does sw-2 (you can even add fine quality bonuses, I would ok giving a +1 for having sharpened the knife extra in preparation if this was a "set up")

If Thug has prepared this scenario, I would allow them to soften up the hostage "to encourage them to be docile and behaved". So its a safe bet your average hostage person is already around half HP, worse if the thug has no intention of them surviving. We dont need to take that into this, I just wanted to throw it out there for consideration.

Thug ST in "realistic" 10 maybe, 11 more likely, but 12 very possible. But we'll run all the numbers just to see.

I dont use this normally so Im not 100% sure which way it works if the cutting damage is doubled after the 1.5 or the 1.5 just becomes doubled.
Im taking the lowest version and thats x1.5 cutting to the neck becomes x2...
ST10 (sw=1d) knife is 1d-2. Max damage is 4, x2 cutting the neck =8
ST11 = 10
ST12 = 12

Bleeding B429 sets a max at -3 with a crit fail, and I cant imagine this would be anything but max every second. This is not gonna clot, you cant put a tourniquet on it, you cant put quickclot on it, this is not going to get better. Here is the one place where "magic or not" comes into play in a big way, magic could make this survivable depending on how you handle major wounds, but your original scenario doesnt say whether thats in play, so Im going to assume it isnt.

ST10 Thug
Hostage takes 8 right across the throat, thats more than half their HP shock for sure, and consciousness roll. Bleeding -3 each second and shock AND a death roll 3 seconds after they hit the ground (-10Hps), and every 3-4 seconds after that, GURPS math you have about 20sec before your -5xHP. Bleeding like that isnt survivable, hostage died from no blood to the brain.
Unless this is a magical world theres really no medical way for hostage to survive. There is no way to keep the magic juice flowing where it needs to go to keep the grey matter popping thats the real problem.

ST12 Thug
Hostage takes 12 to the neck which I would argue is pretty much the definition of decapitation, but lets play it out... thats -2HPs and roll to stay conscious, 3 sec later roll to not die and keep doing that till your dead. Somewhere around ~15sec you have bled to death .....

None of this was anything but a basic knife and a thug and a hostage. Thug wasnt magic, wasnt super strong, didnt get bonuses for the knife... nothing. That's why holding a knife to someones throat is dangerous!

There's also decapitation... If you are doing pretty much the entire HP value of the whole body to the neck, you have pretty much severed the head. Thats why there is a "rule" for instant dead.

I wouldnt count this as "combat" in my games. This situation has probably come about BECAUSE of actions of the PCs, so it would be more likely that they earned this scenario and the very likely hostage death that would result in trying to murder hobo a way out of this. There's no "possibility of survival from a cut throat" for a regular 10/10/10/10 npc in a "realistic" scenario, and pretty darn slim in a MedFan world unless you have a healer with a major heal right there.

Heroes might be able to survive in a magic heals situation, but gritty realism no.
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Old 02-25-2021, 04:06 PM   #9
AlexanderHowl
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

You can survive having your throat cut. Instant death usually requires the cutting of the major arteries and veins, which is actually quite difficult to do in real life unless you have proper training and/or the victim is unaware.
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Old 02-25-2021, 05:05 PM   #10
Ulzgoroth
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Default Re: Hit Points...to be, or not to be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bocephus View Post
I dont use this normally so Im not 100% sure which way it works if the cutting damage is doubled after the 1.5 or the 1.5 just becomes doubled.
Im taking the lowest version and thats x1.5 cutting to the neck becomes x2...
ST10 (sw=1d) knife is 1d-2. Max damage is 4, x2 cutting the neck =8
ST11 = 10
ST12 = 12

Bleeding B429 sets a max at -3 with a crit fail, and I cant imagine this would be anything but max every second. This is not gonna clot, you cant put a tourniquet on it, you cant put quickclot on it, this is not going to get better.
Read again: Basic bleeding rolls are at the end of each minute. And of course, critical failures are far from guaranteed.

Now, if we're actually doing this right, we should use the Veins and Arteries hit location and Severe Bleeding rules from MA p137 and 138. The relevant effects, with all options set for kill, are: cutting wounding modifier upgraded to 2.5, bleeding every 30 seconds, an extra -4 on bleeding rolls, and staunching bleeding requires Surgery with all the bleeding roll penalties applied, First Aid won't help at all. And no Mortal Wound 'not quite dead' allowed.

So even taking your max damage numbers (which I would not use, for the record, those dice must roll) you're looking at 10-15 damage 'instantly' and bleeding rolls every 30 seconds at -6 or -7. That's certainly quite deadly - but it will take at least a minute to reach even the first death check. Probably more, even rolling against 3 a critical failure is only a 1/4th chance. It's technically possible to recover naturally but wildly improbable. And if someone can get them into a good operating room before they bleed out, Surgery at -7 is quite achievable.

In many circumstances, yeah, such a wound is a quick death sentence. If the high-power healing needed doesn't exist or can't be reached in relatively few minutes, that'll be it. But in many other circumstances, it's entirely possible to save the victim there.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bocephus View Post
There's also decapitation... If you are doing pretty much the entire HP value of the whole body to the neck, you have pretty much severed the head. Thats why there is a "rule" for instant dead.
Decapitation with a knife cut? Seems wildly unlikely. Decapitation is hard. And if you really want to use HP damage modeling here for structural impact you should be ignoring the hit location damage modifiers and regarding the neck as Unliving.
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